The transfer window opens in about six weeks and Chelsea may be a part of it. Ross Barkley has that much time to save his Chelsea career.
Ross Barkley’s Chelsea career hardly started on the right foot. While out on a long injury layoff and with the paperwork all done, he snubbed Chelsea on transfer deadline day. He reversed course the very next January but was still not physically where he needed to be. Antonio Conte tried to use him a few times but ultimately he was just never where he needed to be physically.
Maurizio Sarri tried to give him a chance too and at many times it seemed as through the breakthrough had finally arrived. And then it would all crash again. Now Frank Lampard is manager and he gave Barkley a few looks but has ultimately found little opportunities for the midfielder.
Even England, once Barkley’s happy place, seems to have gone. Mason Mount stepped in for England well as did all the other midfielders who can be assumed to have taken Barkley’s spot. Now with about six weeks until the transfer window, Barkley is on the clock to save his Chelsea career.
Barkley is a player that once offered such promise. Even after joining Chelsea on the tail end of that, many tried desperately to find that spark in him again even if it was not in midfield. He showed his talents in flashes at Chelsea but mostly his best games have come for country since joining the Blues. The simpler tactics of the international game seemed to bring the best out of him. But for every dawn, a dusk was not far off.
On paper, it is Mount that most directly blocks off Barkley. But Lampard has shown that he can mix tactics up which means the two could easily start together. The fact that he has not been playing (besides his recent injury) implies that it is not just Mount that is blocking Barkley’s minutes. It is Mount, Mateo Kovacic, and the wingers. Soon to be Ruben Loftus-Cheek too if he comes back anywhere close to where he was.
With the transfer window verdict about to drop, it is safe to assume that regardless FIFA’s decision, Barkley is on his last rope to save his Chelsea career. Loftus-Cheek returning would further limit Barkley’s minutes. An open window would almost guarantee his time hits zero.
Barkley needs to tap into his English form for the club when he does play. He needs to pull out all of his best tricks to keep playing. And he has to find the equivalent on the training pitch. He needs to find a way, over the first part of the winter slog, to make himself as close to invaluable as he can. That may be the only way he can find his path forward at Chelsea.
Otherwise, his time will go down as a long series of what could have beens. The talent is there, but it needs to show. He has six weeks. The clock is ticking.