Signed from Everton as one of the highest-rated domestic prospects in the country, Ross Barkley has so far failed to make the grade at Chelsea. Despite playing under numerous coaches so far, he has struggled to make a first-team name for himself and to gain the kind of consistent playing time that would have been hoped for given the fee paid. However, despite fears that the signing would go on to be a bust, Chelsea are hoping to receive a fee in the region of £40m to part ways with the England international.
Barkley is currently on loan at Aston Villa, where he has struck up an important partnership alongside Jack Grealish. The two have been the main driving force of a Villa team who have punched above their weight, with Barkley in particular exceeding expectation. However, such improvement has pros and cons, as it could see Villa forced to pay a huge fee for a player they might have hoped to receive on a cut-price deal in the summer of 2021.
Barkley signed for Villa in September 2020 and has been a vital part of their impressive campaign so far. Making the most of the first-team action that was not available after the signing of Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech, the England international has set about reminding fans just why he was rated at such a high level when he was a young player.
Will Ross Barkley leave Chelsea permanently?
Another complication stems from the fact that the coach who let Barkley go, Frank Lampard, is no longer present. The Chelsea legend was sacked and replaced by Thomas Tuchel, with the German a fan of high intensity, physically gifted central midfielders. He might see something in Barkley that others have not, which might make it even harder to get a deal done to bring the Englishman back to the Midlands.
A paltry 13 starts in blue last year left Barkley ready to start afresh elsewhere, and the move to Villa was seen as the ideal way to build a connection with a new team prior to signing for them permanently. However, at the moment, it is hard to know what happens next – Barkley now could be returning to a coach who is a more natural fit for the kind of game that he is capable of playing.
Add in the fact that he has been such a key part of the Villa midfield alongside homegrown talent Grealish and Scotsman John McGinn, and his worth on the market has certainly increased. Seen as a young talent who had failed to develop or add to his obvious potential, Barkley now looks like a top-flight performer who would be worth trusting and investing in.
That, then, could make the next season for Barkley a make-or-break deal. Does he force a move through to Villa in a bid to keep getting games, or try to convince another Chelsea manager that he can do the business?