Ross Barkley contends Chelsea can look forward to an exciting season ahead under the tutelage of new manager Maurizio Sarri.
The Blues made a positive start to their preparations for the upcoming Premier League campaign with a 1-0 defeat of Perth Glory in Australia. Pedro’s early first-half strike proved the only difference between the two sides as the visitors were plagued with wasteful finishing after hitting the woodwork on three occasions. But while Sarri has immediately demanded improvement, his side offered glimpses of the attractive football he has promised to bring to Stamford Bridge in the coming months.
Jorginho had a fine debut in a Blues shirt while Cesc Fabregas looked comfortable in the middle along with the Italian international. Callum Hudson-Odoi had an outstanding game as well which prompted the Chelsea hierarchy to offer him a new contract. However, it was Barkley who was arguably the best performer in the match.
“I felt good out there,” Barkley told the club’s website. “We have been working for the last couple of days on tactical work and I have worked hard during the off-season. In this game, I felt really strong and I am ready for the season ahead. Game by game I will feel much better and ready for the season.”
Since his arrival at West London in January, the 24-year-old only made four appearances as he again suffered a hamstring problem, the same injury that caused him to sit out the majority of his last season with Everton. But against Perth, Barkley looked fresh on the pitch and seemed to have put his past injury struggles behind him. “I came through a difficult spell with a few little niggles after a long-term injury but now I feel as strong as I have ever felt before, and I am feeling fitter than I have ever felt so yeah, I feel good.”
In the first half, Barkley looked steady playing as one of Chelsea’s midfield three but it was his switch to the left of the front three in the second half, sparking memories of his early days at Merseyside, that the former Everton star was truly able to show his attacking qualities. However, Barkley was quick to reiterate he is inclined to play anywhere in the Blues midfield as long as he clocks in game time.
“As a young player breaking through at Everton, that is the position I played in,” said Barkley. “I was in that position because it gave me the freedom to express myself and I understand that role, and I understand the other roles in midfield so I am happy to play anywhere as long as I am on the pitch.”
Following a difficult early spell at Chelsea, the arrival of Sarri has brought optimism to the former Toffees favourite who believes an exciting period of time lies ahead for the Stamford Bridge outfit. Asked about Sarri’s first week of training the Blues squad, Barkley said: “It has been very interesting. The style that he wants us to play, it is really exciting and very attacking, as well as being very organised. We have been understanding what he has been getting across in training but the more we do it in training, the more we get used to it and I can see from the training sessions that this season is going to be very exciting.”