Chelsea haven’t messed about or wasted time in this transfer window and they have already completed one signing, one that many football fans would have expected in the summer. Ross Barkley made the move from Everton for a fee of £15 million, a bargain in today’s market justified only by the fact that his contract at Goodison Park was set to run out in the summer.
Possibly the biggest news that came out of this signing is that the English international adopted the iconic number 8 shirt, one famous for being worn for years by Frank Lampard. When talking about filling big boots, they don’t come much bigger, but Barkley is far from a shrinking violet.
He made his debut in Everton’s first home match of the season in the 2011/12 campaign and stood out as man of the match. It is from there that he went from strength to strength and built up a very strong relationship with everyone involved with the Toffees but now, it’s a completely different prospect at a club where he isn’t seen as one of the ‘star players’.
At 24 years of age, Barkley still has his best years ahead of him but his potential needs to be reached as soon as possible, especially if he wants to make his mark on the international stage with the World Cup in Russia just six months away and the star having odds as long as 2/1 with some betting sites like bet365 to make England’s 23-man squad. The Liverpool-born midfielder needs game time but with N’Golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas and Danny Drinkwater all vying for a place in the middle of the park, it will take hard work.
This professional attitude is something that Barkley has been criticised for in the past due to his ‘questionable’ lack of desire. One player that would preach the importance of this is his predecessor, Frank Lampard. The Chelsea and England legend was known throughout his illustrious career as a model professional who never showed a lack of interest or work rate. If Ross Barkley was to have half the success of Lampard at Stamford Bridge, then he will be seen as a great player amongst Blues fans.
Both players have similar resemblances in the ways they play. Both central midfielders with an eye for joining the attacking line whenever they can with fantastic offensive movement. Barkley has scored some brilliant goals, with 21 Premier League strikes to his name, and while he won’t come close to equalling Lampard’s record haul (not many will), with the correct work ethic and attitude he could become a cult hero in West London.
Barkley is a player full of ability and talent and can be played anywhere across midfield which is very good for a manager like Antonio Conte, who likes versatile players that can be deployed in several positions. The former Leeds loanee fits this elk but also fits the same mould as the other attacking stars in the side and needs to show something that they don’t show.
Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard are all very good performers but there are far too many occasions where their effort is lacking when things aren’t going their way. Hazard, for example, is in world-class form at the moment but his form in the 2015/16 campaign showed that he’s non-existent when he’s unhappy. Barkley could be described in the same way so he needs to make sure that this changes at Chelsea where he could take advantage of making a good first impression.
There’s no doubt he is good enough to play for a Champions League team but it is his work rate and attitude that needs to improve. With the Blues struggling at the moment, they need some inspiration from somewhere and Barkley could be the player to provide that. If he can build a relationship with Blues fans, he will be an instant hit and there’s no better way to do that than working hard and putting in maximum effort. These next five months, until the end of the season, will be the defining period for his Chelsea career. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.