The Chelsea Football Club has confirmed the signing of Everton midfielder Ross Barkley from Everton on a five-and-a-half year deal.
Chelsea, the Premier League champion were on the verge of signing the England midfielder in the summer, only for the deal to collapse at the last minute, but the Premier League champions reignited their interest this week and have secured Barkley’s services in a £15million deal.
Rose Barkley, who will wear Frank Lampard’s old No.8 shirt, underwent surgery last year on the hamstring injury which has prevented him from playing so far this season and in Friday’s pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Norwich, Antonio Conte warned Chelsea fans it would be a while before they see their new recruit at his best.
He said: ‘For sure we’re talking about a young player, an English player. He can have good prospects for Chelsea.
‘I think the club decided on this investment also for his contract. ‘He’s very young. He has a lot of space for improvement. He’s very strong physically, good technique. He’s a good prospect but at the same time, it will be very important to understand when he can recover from his injury.
The 24-year-old, who has signed a five-and-a-half-year deal, told Chelsea’s website: “I’m overwhelmed, I’m looking forward to it and I’m really excited to get started. 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.”
Antonio Conte explained on Friday why he wanted to bring Barkley to Chelsea. “We are talking about an English player, a young player,” the manager said. “He has good prospects for Chelsea. I think the club decided for this investment also for his contract. I think this is a good opportunity for the club to buy this player. For sure he is a good prospect for Chelsea.”
Conte cautioned against expecting Barkley, who had not played a competitive match since May, to make an immediate impact. “Don’t forget he had a bad injury, he had surgery,” he said. “This player has not played in seven months … We must have great patience. We have to hope to recover him very quickly, to try to help us for the rest of the season.”
Barkley has been at Everton since he was 11 years old, having been spotted by the club’s late and prolific former scout Sid Benson, and made 150 Premier League appearances.
His future at Goodison was thrown into doubt during Ronald Koeman’s reign as Everton manager, with the Dutch coach regularly criticising the midfielder in public and the player then stalling over a contract extension.
Koeman’s immediate replacement, David Unsworth, and permanent successor, Allardyce, both hoped a change in management would encourage Ross Barkley to recommit to Everton but that has not materialised. The England midfielder has not featured this season because of his recovery from hamstring surgery but returned to first-team training over the festive period.