Chelsea: Could Barkley be an important man for Sarri?

Although it couldn’t have been a worse start to his career at Stamford Bridge, Ross Barkley could play a big role in Maurizio Sarri’s 4-3-3 formation.

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Reuters/John Sibley

After only making two Premier League appearances following his £15 million move from Everton back in January, it’s fair to say Ross Barkley was quickly becoming a forgotten man at Stamford Bridge.

Making cameo appearances in Chelsea’s pair of 3-0 defeats against Bournemouth and Newcastle at the back end of last season, coupled with a long-term hamstring injury, he was left with a lot to do to prove himself during pre-season. 

However, with the arrival of a new manager and a new system, Maurizio Sarri’s 4-3-3 may give Barkley the platform to showcase his unquestionable potential. 

Coming off the back of an impressive tour of Australia last month, the 22-cap England international has been described as a key part of his new boss’s plans. Now 24 and with the chance to play European football under an attacking manager, could this be the start of a new chapter in Barkley’s career?

New manager, new confidence

Continuing to give his young midfielder the chance to get back on the pitch, Barkley played 90 minutes in Chelsea’s 2-0 loss to Manchester City in last weekend’s Community Shield. Remarkably, that was the first time he had played a whole competitive match since May 2017: a match played under Ronald Koeman at Everton.

Putting in arguably the best performance in what was a lacklustre defeat for the Blues, Barkley showed glimpses of those jinxing runs and his high-intensity pressing is very similar to the quick counter-attacking style Sarri’s Napoli side were famous for. 

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Wearing the iconic number eight shirt that Chelsea legend Frank Lampard wore for club and county, Barkley now has the perfect stage to justify his presence at Stamford Bridge.

If he isn’t already, the 24-year-old should be relishing the chance to work in a midfield three alongside another Napoli recruit in summer signing Jorginho and recently crowned World Champion N’Golo Kante. 

With Cesc Fabregas replacing the two-time PFA Player of the Year on Sunday for the Community Shield, Chelsea were overrun by City’s midfield three of Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan. 

However, with Kante now back in full training and Italian international Jorginho finding a pass every 27 seconds against Perth in pre-season, Barkley will be given licence to play.

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