The Chelsea supporters have been reacting with a mixture of delight and apprehension to the news that Ross Barkley looks set to join the club in the very near future.
Following Virgil Van Dijk’s move from Southampton to Liverpool on New Year’s Day, the second major transfer of the January window has taken place. Indeed, the Blues confirmed the signing of Ross Barkley on Friday afternoon, much to the delight of the punters propping up our bar.
Although Barkley is yet to play a single minute of competitive football this season, there is still plenty of reason for the Blues faithful to be delighted with the transfer.
Barkley has displayed a phenomenal level of potential in seasons gone by, and if Conte can unlock that potential then Chelsea will have a real gem of a player on their hands.
However, the arrival of Barkley could perhaps be indicative of Conte’s stance on Ruben Loftus-Cheek who is currently plying his trade on loan at Crystal Palace.
During his spell at Selhurst Park so far, Loftus Cheek has been mightily impressive for both club and country in attacking- midfield.
There are certainly similarities to be drawn between the playing styles of Loftus-Cheek and Barkley, which suggests it is unlikely that both of these players could effectively slot into a tactical system together.
When Conte made the decision to bring Barkley to the club, he would have been fully aware of this point, and the fact that the Italian manager decided to sign Barkley anyway strongly suggests that as long as he is manager of the club, Loftus-Cheek has no future at Stamford Bridge.
A man who could have replaced Frank Lampard as Chelsea’s long-term attacking midfield heir has been replaced by another one.