According to reports from the BBC, Chelsea are on the verge of completing the £15million signing of Everton and England playmaker Ross Barkley. The 24-year-old is expected to have a medical at the south west London club on Friday.
The England international has just six months left on his current contract at Everton, which is why the fee is a cut-price one.
Barkley turned down a £35million deadline day move to Chelsea in August. The midfielder revealed he felt he should wait until he was injury-free to decide on his future, as the midfielder has only recently returned to training from a hamstring problem. Barkley has yet to feature this season due to the injury.
Barkley’s decision to stay until January has saved his new employers £20million while costing his boyhood club £20million. Nice one Ross!
Why move to Chelsea?
It is hard to understand Ross Barkley or Ross Barkley’s agents thinking on moving to Chelsea. No doubt he will get more money at the reigning champions. However, his prospects of playing regular first-team football at Stamford Bridge are not great.
Barkley will struggle for game time at Chelsea. He has potential and technical ability. However, he does not have the best football brain. His decision-making is awful at times. Compared to the likes of Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian, who play in similar positions, he is light years behind in football intelligence.
I can see another Francis Jeffers or Jack Rodwell situation on the horizon with Ross. An Everton academy graduate decides to leave Everton because he thinks he is too good for the club. It usually ends in tears.
Barkley could be sat on the Chelsea bench for the next two years, what will that do for his development. He is far from the finished article. Training with the better players may help him, but not playing will not help him at all.
A move to Chelsea could also jeopardise his chances of making England’s World Cup squad.
Tottenham may have been a better fit
Tottenham were also reportedly interested in signing Barkley. Speculation on Merseyside suggested that the attacking midfielder turned down the summer move to Chelsea, as he preferred a move to White Hart Lane.
Again, I think Barkley will have struggled for first-team football at Tottenham. However, I do believe he would have had a better chance of playing regular football in north London.
The fact that Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has such a reputation for developing young players would have to be a consideration too. The Argentinian has done wonders with the likes of Dele Alli, Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane at White Hart Lane.
Pochettino is very adept at bringing the best out of young players. While Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is a very good coach, he does not have the same sort of reputation as the Tottenham boss for developing young players.
Barkley would not earn as much at Tottenham. However, in pure football terms, I believe it would have been a better move for the attacking midfielder.
Barkley taking a gamble with his career
Even if the deal is complete today, it seems that Ross Barkley is not fit enough to be in the Blues squad for Saturday’s FA Cup third-round clash at Norwich, a game Chelsea are odds of 1/ 2 to win.
In terms of Chelsea, they have taken a very small gamble, as £15million is not much to sign a decent squad player who is not cup-tied and is homegrown.
However, for Ross Barkley, the move to Stamford Bridge is a huge gamble. Only time will tell if the decision pays off. Yes, he will earn more money at Chelsea and have a chance of playing in the Champions League.
He needs to offset those against the fact that he is highly unlikely to play on a regular basis at Chelsea, especially due to his habit of being wildly inconsistent.
Today could be a defining moment in the football career of a once greatly heralded young English talent. My fear for the player is that it will all go terribly wrong and any talent he does have will rot on the Blues bench for the next couple of years.
Is joining Chelsea a good move for Barkley?
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