Ross Barkley has sealed his move to Chelsea on a five-and-a-half-year deal.
The Everton and England midfielder, 24, was at Stamford Bridge with his representatives on Friday discussing the finer points of his move from Merseyside, with the two clubs reportedly agreeing a fee in the region of $22 million and Barkley already completing a medical.
Barkley’s move was announced later on Friday, while his new manager Antonio Conte had the following to say about Barkley when speaking to the media ahead of Chelsea’s FA Cup trip to Norwich City on Saturday.
“He is very young, he has a lot of space for improvement. He is very strong physically with great technique. He is a good prospect,” Conte said.
The Liverpudlian, who was handed the No. 8 jersey, had the following to say after completing his move to Chelsea.
“I’m overwhelmed, I’m looking forward to it and I’m really excited to get started,” Barkley said. “To be given a fresh start at a new club like Chelsea, it’s unbelievable for me. I’m looking forward to continuing where I left off at the end of last season and hoping to improve and add more goals to my game.”
We have been here before with Barkley, who has just six months remaining on his Everton contract.
On Transfer Deadline Day back in the summer he seemed set to move to Chelsea but with the clock ticking away he changed his mind when at Chelsea’s training ground and decided to stay with the Toffees until the January window.
Just five days into this window the deal is all but completed for a man linked with a big money move to Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal in the past.
Barkley hasn’t played this season at all after he injured a hamstring in training in August. He also fell out of favor with former Everton boss Ronald Koeman who insisted he either signed a new deal with the club or left in the summer.
The academy product was available on a free transfer in the summer, so at least Everton recouped something for an attacking midfielder who was the brightest talent in English soccer in 2014.
Barkley has lost his way in recent seasons but if he can regain his form and fitness then Chelsea have a hugely talented player who is hungry to prove doubters wrong and force his way back into the England squad in a World Cup year.
After a nightclub altercation in his hometown of Liverpool, many called for Barkley to get out of his bubble and his comfort zone. He has done just that and it will be intriguing to see how he slots in at Chelsea and how often he plays.
With Tiemoue Bakayoko struggling to adapt to life in the PL, plus Danny Drinkwater more of a defensive option alongside N'Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas not getting any younger, Barkley could play a big role for Chelsea in the future.