Chelsea looking at Ross Barkley to replace Juan Mata, according to reports

Chris Brunskill

Now that Chelsea's 'issues' with money seem to be a thing of the past, I'd expect Chelsea to be linked to a small army in January

The Telegraph is now reporting that Chelsea are still interested in signing Everton's Ross Barkley, though they don't believe the midfielder would be a January signing. Here's what the paper had to say on the matter:

Chelsea's willingness to allow Juan Mata to join Manchester United for £37 million is part of a long-term strategy to try to land Everton's young star Ross Barkley. Even though a deal for Mata should be completed quickly, there is little chance of Chelsea immediately using the money to sign Barkley, who is out injured with a broken toe.

Jose Mourinho's side wouldn't be able to sign Barkley and then loan him back to Everton, as Romelu Lukaku is already on loan from the club. The only way a Barkley signing could be made official in January is if Chelsea were to take him from Everton immediately, or to come to an agreement that sees Romelu Lukaku recalled. With Everton very much in the hunt for a Champions League place, those scenarios seem highly unlikely.

We know Chelsea have had interest in Barkley in the past, stretching back to when he was only 17 years old. Mourinho also hinted that we may have made a bid for the player this summer, with his club looking for a considerable fee in return. Thus far this season, that request for a massive fee seems justified.

Chelsea will surely go back in for Barkley this summer, and with any FFP issues likely dealt with by the sales of Mata and Kevin De Bruyne, they could safely make a bid that Everton would have a hard time refusing. Whether or not the player is actually available will likely come down to whether or not Everton qualify for the Champions League though, so it might be in Chelsea's best interest if one of the other three clubs with a reasonable chance manage to finish above them. Agent Mata...do your thing.

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