Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ross Barkley: Chelsea’s summer conundrum

Ross Barkley has endured a troubled time of it in his two year stint in the capital, registering just a handful of goals. As the summer window draws nearer, should Chelsea keep him around, or try and cash in on the 26-year-old?

The Englishman’s time at Chelsea has been a struggle – it’s been completely arduous from the very outset. Even as the transfer to bring him to Chelsea went through, problems begun as Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson referred the deal to Merseyside Police to investigate potential fraud – no wrongdoing was found.

During the 2017/18 season itself, Barkley played very little football, making just two appearances in the Premier League. He joined Chelsea in January and hadn’t played all season having given Everton notice that he wanted to depart in the summer.

He played just two games in the league, turning out against Bournemouth and Newcastle – both of which were 3-0 defeats incidentally.

Since then, he’s turned out for Chelsea a total of 72 times which, in all honesty, is absolutely astonishing to me. The vast majority of those appearances came from the bench with the Mateo Kovacic/Ross Barkley sub having been a particular favourite of Maurizio Sarri’s.

This season, Barkley has 20 appearances to his name but did miss a few games earlier in the campaign due to injury. The issue is his lack of productivity on the field – he’s bagged just three goals all season.

In fact, in the entire two and a half seasons he’s spent with Chelsea, Barkley has yet to reach double figures for goals – netting just eight times in 72 apps. That’s an average of one goal for every nine appearances…

At Everton, he netted 27 goals in his 179 appearances, averaging a goal every 6.6 appearances. The interesting thing is that at both clubs, he has more assists than he does goals – 10 at Chelsea, 28 at Everton.

While his output is limited, there is at least something there. However, with the emergence of Mason Mount in the last year as well as the capture of Hakim Ziyech, Barkley’s play time looks set to drop off a cliff next season.

So, what do Chelsea do? Do they keep him around as a bit part player to be used in cup games or off the bench from time-to-time? Or do they transfer list him and try to cash in?

In the new, post-COVID world, teams will need all the money they can get. If Chelsea are to push on into the transfer window and look to add more firepower, even their Russian fortune will need some sort of bolstering.

Currently, TransferMarkt – whom we use as our barometer for player valuation – price Barkley at £19.35m, which is the lowest point he has been since February 2016.

Here’s an interesting and utterly pointless statistic for you: Ross Barkley is the 17th highest valued player within Chelsea FC – Ngolo Kante is first.

If Chelsea can manage to get a figure in the £20m range for Barkley this summer, they should absolutely cash in on him. There’s no doubt in my mind that there’ll be some interest, likely from the lower reaches of the Premier League.

To be perfectly honest, as player values diminish after the resumption of football, I can see Chelsea looking at somewhere between £10-12m for Barkley at best. Even then, that’s a very decent chunk of cash to add to the transfer kitty.

For Barkley personally, this is the point in time wherein we’ll see what’s important to him in this game – earning money or playing football. He can easily sit on Chelsea’s bench and continue to earn an exorbitant amount of money while the world forgets about him.

Or, he can push for a move down the league, join up with a mid-table Premier League club, get some game-time and prove he is the player we all thought he could be when he burst onto the scene eight years ago.

I think it’s clear which one I personally think he should do but, fortunately for him, I don’t make the decisions in his life. If I did, he’d currently be working at Burger King, spitting on your onion rings.

What do you think Chelsea should do with Barkley this summer? Join the discussion on our Facebook page. Meanwhile, check out the dedicated football section for more news and analysis.

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