Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Barkley joins Blues to revive career

Published:Saturday | January 6, 2018 | 12:00 AM


England midfielder Ross Barkley joined Chelsea from Everton yesterday, as one of English football's unfulfilled talents looked to revive his career.

The 24-year-old Barkley signed a 51/2-year deal with the Premier League champions, with British media reporting a transfer fee of 15 million pounds for a player whose contract was due to expire at the end of the season.

"To be given a fresh start at a new club like Chelsea, it's unbelievable for me," said Barkley, who hasn't played this season after surgery on his hamstring.

Compared by many to England great Paul Gascoigne because of his technique, build, and playing style, Barkley has been attached to Everton since the age of 11, and went to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championship with his country.

But he hasn't developed as many would have hoped at the Merseyside club, with former coach Ronald Koeman scathing at times last season about the midfielder's failure to make the next step in his career. He also struggled under the weight of expectation of Everton fans at Goodison Park.

Barkley, who nearly joined Chelsea on the final day of the summer transfer window in August, plays as a central midfielder, and so faces lots of competition for a place in the shape of N'Golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas, and Danny Drinkwater.

Because he hasn't played for Everton this season, Barkley is eligible to play in all four competitions that Chelsea are involved in.

"Ross is a player we have long admired and are certain he will prove to be an important player for Chelsea," Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said. "He possesses outstanding technical and physical attributes, matched with good experience of the Premier League and a strong desire to succeed at the highest level."

Barkley has made 150 Premier League appearances for Everton, scoring 21 goals.

Before the transfer was confirmed, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said the team "must have great patience" with Barkley after his injury problems.