According to The Athletic, Chelsea tracked Ross Barkley for seven years before signing the former Everton midfielder in 2018.

The Blues started monitoring Barkley since 2011 when he broke into the Toffees first team and identified the England international as a long-term replacement for Chelsea legendary midfielder Frank Lampard, who is now manager of the club.

Chelsea first tried to sign Barkley at the start of the 2013/14 season with the offer including a loan back to Goodison but Everton rejected Chelsea’s offer.

Since joining Chelsea in 2018, Barkley has struggled to emulate Lampard, scoring just eight goals and providing 10 assists in his 72 appearances for Chelsea.

Ex-Everton defender Mark Hughes believes Barkley has struggled to reach his potential because had some of his natural flair coached out of him.

Hughes told Tribalfootbal: “If Wayne Rooney was playing at that age now, I’m not saying it would get taken out of him, but I look at someone like Ross Barkley when he was at Everton, and he came in a bit of a street footballer, but I think managers and even fans they sort of take that out of them.

“I love when a young lad comes through, and he was the one who I thought could be the next Steven Gerrard for Everton. “You could have built a team around him. I thought he could’ve been the best midfielder England had since Steven Gerrard.

“But because the way he played, he used to run with the ball and sometimes he’d get it taken off him. That’s the hardest part of football – taking people on. “Then the fans would get on his back because he’d given it away. He just started passing it.”

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