£96k-a-week Chelsea star will be taking biggest risk of his career if he leaves in January - TCC View
Ross Barkley breathes a deep sigh of relief.
He is no longer an outcast at Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel has finally spotted him amongst the Stamford Bridge shadows.
Formerly numberless, his shirt is back up in the club shop.
A once empty shell now full of life.
Tuchel’s decision to bring Barkley back into the fold certainly raised a few eyebrows.
With Halloween season swiftly approaching, many thought it was a trick rather than treat.
But there was nothing ghoulish about the midfielder’s contribution against Southampton in the last Premier League match before the international break.
The 27-year-old also avoided a horror show in the Champions League defeat to Juventus, even if several of his teammates endured a nightmare evening.
Although the minutes might have been minor, the fact Barkley was part of either fixture suggests a huge swing in terms of his status at Chelsea.
And the Evertonian’s inclusion might not end there.
Between now and the beginning of November, the Blues’ fixture list looks very favourable.
Tomorrow, Tuchel’s team face Malmo in Europe, followed by a league visit from Norwich City.
Three days later, a Carabao Cup clash with Southampton, then a trip to newly acquired Newcastle United.
Another Malmo match is speedily succeeded by a domestic bout against Burnley.
Barkley could quite easily feature in all six fixtures, however unlikely that might appear.
Interestingly, two of the sides included in this run reportedly want to sign the former England international when the January window opens for business.
According to 90min, Newcastle and Burnley, along with Leeds United, have Barkley circled as part of their transfer plans.
Of course, a move to any one of these clubs would almost certainly guarantee a game-time increase for the Chelsea player.
Newcastle will also probably be able to offer far more than the £96,000-a-week (Spotrac) he is currently earning.
But, would this all be worthwhile if it meant grappling against the grip of relegation?
Leeds, Burnley and Newcastle make up the ¾ of the league’s bottom four.
Norwich prop up the table, with the suffering trio just above them.
Burnley or Newcastle could feasibly not pick up any points until the end of next month.
Leeds face Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Brighton & Hove Albion, Brentford, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool before the turn of the year.
By the time deals can be made again, the three might be even deeper into a demotion dog fight.
Joining any one of the struggling outfits would be a huge gamble for Barkley’s career.
Dropping down a division certainly does not look good on a CV.
Especially as he would only have a few months to save them from the Championship’s clutches.
Leaving Everton for Chelsea was a big leap. Signing for Aston Villa on loan was initially a wise move.
Agreeing to help out Burnley, Leeds or Newcastle would easily be the biggest risk of Barkley’s footballing life.