Ross Barkley’s decision to leave Everton for Chelsea in January raised plenty of eyebrows.
After all, the Liverpool-born midfielder struggled for form in his last few months at Goodison Park with his reputation declining and his promise stalling. So what chance did Barkley have of forcing his way into a hugely talented Chelsea midfield?
The 24-year-old is certainly responding to his critics at the moment, however, making clear improvements under Maurizio Sarri and scoring his first goal for the Blues in the 3-0 away win at Southampton on Sunday.
Speaking on the Monday Night Show on BBC Radio 5 Live (8 October, 5:00pm), Chris Sutton has indicated that the Everton fans have to take some responsibility for Barkley’s difficult final months in the North West.
“I just feel with his career at Everton that there was too much expectation when he burst into the team. And then I felt he was unloved, the fans turned against him,” Sutton said.
“I wonder now, under Sarri, does he feel loved and wanted?”
Barkley certainly had to deal with huge expectations during his formative years at Everton. He was fast-tracked into the first-team, forced to adapt to a new-look number ten role and compared by fans and pundits alike to the one and only Paul Gascoigne.
The pressure is off at Chelsea, however, and Barkley is thriving free from talismanic status at Stamford Bridge.