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Barkley targeting regular starts under Sarri even after Kovačić, Fàbregas return

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Positive intentions from the Englishman

Huddersfield Town v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Ross Barkley has been ever present in Maurizio Sarri’s starting lineups, both in preseason and in competitive matches thus far (including starts in the Community Shield and our first league match of the season), and that’s certainly a change of pace from last season, when he was injured a lot and could never quite get up to speed with Conte’s system. Having been exposed to Sarri-ball since day one, he’s had no such problems under the new coach, slotting in as the third midfielder next to Jorginho and Kanté (or, earlier, Fàbregas).

But Barkley has a big fight ahead of him for that coveted third starting spot in the center of the pitch, especially once Mateo Kovačić gets back into match fitness. The Real Madrid loanee is likely to be the first choice for that role next to Jorginho and Kanté, and we know that Fàbregas isn’t one to quietly give up either (once he’s recovered from his minor knee injury). And let’s not forget about Ruben Loftus-Cheek, should he choose to stay and not go on loan. But Ross has set himself an intention and he’s hoping to stay at the forefront of Sarri’s thoughts as well.

“[Keeping my place in the starting eleven] depends on how I perform and hopefully I showed I can start and stay in his thoughts. There’s a lot of competition at top sides like us so my focus is just to do what I can on the pitch and help the team win games.”

-Ross Barkley; source: Chelsea FC

Barkley made a good case for himself over the weekend, against Huddersfield, bringing plenty of hustle, will, and determination to the fight. But it was a moment of finesse, his flick for Marcos Alonso, which led to the penalty that Jorginho converted, that was just about the moment that decided the match, with Chelsea coming out much more composed after the break and putting the first half’s struggles behind themselves.

He may not be a regular starter a few weeks or months from now, but Barkley should be able to remain a more than capable backup and rotational option at the very worst. And at still just 25, he might even recover his once great promise as well and prove the absolute bargain that Chelsea were hoping for last January.