• Barkley renaissance suggests Chelsea don't need to break the bank for Havertz
    08:53 | 29/06/2020

    The England international sent the Blues to the FA Cup semi-finals, and his form seems to say that signing another midfielder should not be a priority.

    Photo by Getty Images

    With Chelsea out of sorts during the opening 45 minutes at the King Power Stadium, Frank Lampard chanelled his inner Jose Mourinho.

    A triple-change at the break was what the Blues boss felt was required to beat Leicester City and reach the FA Cup semi-finals, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley introduced.

    When the latter’s late run into the box allowed him to volley Willian’s cross past Kasper Schmeichel for the only goal of the game 18 minutes later, Lampard could reflect on a job well done.

    For Barkley, his best form since joining from Everton in January 2018 could barely have come at a better time.

    Many felt the England international was living on borrowed time in west London during the first half of the season, with off-the-field controversies and a foot injury that kept him out of action for three months seriously hampering his progress – but either side of the lockdown, Barkley has been one of Chelsea’s shining lights.

    “It was frustrating [timing] because I was in good form,’ Barkley said ahead of football’s restart. “I was getting a decent run in the side and things were going well.”

    The 26-year-old was right, with his performances against TottenhamLiverpool and Everton helping Lampard’s side to key victories in both the Premier League and FA Cup.

    He has picked up where he left off after the break as he came off the bench to make an impact in the come-from-behind win at Aston Villa before impressing in Thursday’s victory over Manchester City.

    Having been one of six players Lampard left out from those who started against Pep Guardiola’s side, he stepped up to send the Blues to Wembley in three weeks’ time.

    Barkley’s form comes amid a backdrop of increased transfer speculation. Though the Blues have already forked out in excess of £75 million ($92.5m) on Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech for next season, they are far from done in adding to their squad.

    Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz is very much in their crosshairs, along with Leicester full-back Ben Chilwell, and the potential signing of the Germany international would push Barkley further down the pecking order.

    There is no doubt that 21-year-old Havertz would improve Lampard’s squad as he comes off a season that has seen him score 16 goals and provide nine assists in all competitions, with the final of the DFB-Pokal and the latter stages of the Europa League still to come.

    But regardless of whether a deal can be done to bring Havertz to Stamford Bridge, it is clear Barkley has the potential to either provide strong back-up or, in the event money is spent elsewhere, become the Lampard-esque goalscoring midfielder the Blues boss requires.

    Barkley’s attacking penetration was what Chelsea lacked during the first-half against the Foxes, with Blilly Gilmour struggling to impose himself as a No 8.

    The teenage Scot was substituted alongside fellow youngsters Mason Mount and Reece James at the break, and almost immediate the tide turned in Chelsea’s direction. Though they were far from their best, Chelsea should have won more comfortably by the end.

    Christian Pulisic twice went close to making it three successive games with a goal to his name, Tammy Abraham had a strike chalked off for offside while Barkley himself should have done better as the Blues countered late on.

    With Chelsea outnumbering the Leicester defenders, Barkley first played a pass into Ruben Loftus-Cheek behind his fellow midfielder. Loftus-Cheek did well to recover and the send the ball back into Barkley’s path, and though Pedro was free to his right, the Merseyside instead opted to shoot from 20 yards, with Schmeichel able to turn the effort wide.

    It is those struggles with decision-making in the final third that have always left some to question Barkley’s true ability, and there is no doubt that Havertz would be an upgrade from that perspective – but Barkley has proven either side of a three-month break in football that he has what it takes to make a difference for Chelsea.

    With other areas of the pitch to upgrade during the off-season, Lampard might do well to put his trust in a player with whom he shares many attributes.

    Source – Goal.com

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