Ross Barkley is one of several players who are technically registered to play for Chelsea in the Premier League the Champions League until at least January, but remain very much on the fringes of the first-team. The others, presumably, are fellow midfielder Lewis Baker and defender Malang Sarr, and perhaps Ruben Loftus-Cheek as well, who got an off-hand mention from Tuchel when he was asked about Barkley’s situation in yesterday’s press conference.
“All I say is that, for example, with [Barkley], and with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, I’m super happy. [They’ve been training] very, very well despite their personal situations, which is maybe sometimes not the nicest one to have as a competitor, as a boy who has dreams, high hopes and loves his sport.
“He does not have to love the situation, but he needs to accept it in a positive way. This is what I feel from him and, hopefully, he can keep this spirit up.”
So it sounds like even though Barkley’s registered, his prospects of actually playing remain as low as they have been ever since he returned from his ultimately disappointing loan at Aston Villa. And with new signing Saúl Ñíguez also in the squad, and very much in line for minutes in midfield alongside Jorginho, N’Golo Kanté, and Mateo Kovačić, those prospects have certainly not improved.
Still, you never know.
“He accepts the situation that it was not an over-performance from him at Aston Villa, so he cannot demand that we rely on him as the top midfielder in the next season. I’m sure that he himself worries a lot about the situation. ‘How can it come so far that right now I’m like in between the chairs and don’t really know where I belong and what my role is?’
“[He] has the ability, so let’s see. It’s never too late and I will give him the support that I can. We need to wait and have patience.”
With all transfer windows now closed, including in Turkey and Russia, Barkley has little choice but to bide his time and hope that January brings a clearer resolution.
“He tried to go on loan again, to find a club, but it is not easy. The situation out there, the financial impact from corona to clubs abroad and clubs also within the country is huge. It’s not easy to find clubs who are able to invest.
“It’s hard to see people struggling and struggling with the situation. But the quality that Ross brings to the pitch could help a lot of clubs in Europe.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Telegraph
Barkley has a contract through 2023, and while he has made some impact since arriving on a cut-rate deal in 2017, especially during Sarri’s season in 2018-19, Chelsea’s gamble on him hasn’t really paid off. At 27, he should have many more years left in his career, but where exactly he might be playing remains a bit of a mystery...