It’s never easy to predict which signings will and won’t work out upon their completion, although it is safe to say that Ross Barkley’s move to Chelsea in January 2018 had all the hallmarks of a switch that could well disappoint.
First and foremost, the England international was signed having not played for seven months prior to making the move to Stamford Bridge due to a hamstring injury, with that lack of match fitness seemingly a factor as he went on to make just five appearances in all competitions during the remainder of the 2017/18 season.
Furthermore, that injury had also played its part in delaying the move in the first place, with the Blues seeing a £35m bid accepted by Everton on transfer deadline day in August 2017, only for the player to pull out of the deal in order to focus on his recovery, as per BBC Sport.
That failure to move understandably angered the Goodison faithful, as the Merseysiders missed out on a sizeable fee with the academy graduate eventually sold a few months later for less than half that figure (£15m), albeit with then Chelsea boss Antonio Conte likely to have been better served waiting until the summer when his existing contract was due to expire.
Those early hiccups have, in truth, set the tone for what’s been a relatively anonymous last four years for the 28-year-old, with many scratching their heads as to just how he is still at a club that is typically so ruthless in moving on players.
The west London outfit famously moved on Liverpool talisman Mo Salah after just a year or so in England, while Manchester City playmaker Kevin made just three league appearances in his solitary season in the club’s first-team, yet somehow that man Barkley remains a Chelsea player, with still a year left on his contract.
Should he see out the remainder of that five-and-a-half-year deal, he will have raked in roughly £28.6m during his time at the club, a staggering figure for a player who is yet to make a century of appearances in a Blues shirt and has only offered 22 goal contributions in his measly stint, as per Transfermarkt.
That figure was, however, slightly offset by Aston Villa reportedly paying an eye-watering £11m fee to take him on loan for the 2020/21 campaign, although despite scoring two goals in his opening two league games for the Midlands outfit, he quickly faded from view under Dean Smith, with Tim Sherwood labelling the player’s time at Villa Park a “massive disappointment”.
His stock has fallen to such an extent that earlier this season Journalist Paul Smith suggested it would be a “disaster” for former club Everton try and re-sign him, amid suggestions that Rafa Benitez was interested in a deal to try and rescue him from his nightmare spell in London.
Over the course of a little over four years (221 weeks – and counting), Barkley has cost the Blues approximately £36.2m when factoring in his wages and the price they paid.
That decline is a sad state of affairs for a player who was once so highly-rated in his younger years, with 6 foot 1 playmaker having drawn comparisons to the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Wayne Rooney.
Nowadays he has become something of a forgotten figure amidst all the high-class talent in Thomas Tuchel’s stellar squad, with appearances few and far between under the German.
Arguably his best spell at the club came during the 2018/19 season, in which he made 48 appearances in all competitions under Maurizio Sarri, although that now seems like a distant memory, with the undoubtedly talented midfielder in desperate need of a fresh start to help kick-start his career.
At still just 28, it is not unreasonable that he can be a regular for a Premier League side again, although for those of a Chelsea persuasion, they will seemingly be glad to see the back of the £96k-per-week man.