Sarri sur­prised at rate of Barkley’s rise

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By John Percy

Mau­r­izio Sarri has re­vealed Ross Barkley was “in trou­ble” this sea­son, but is now back­ing the Chelsea mid­fielder to jus­tify his £15mil­lion trans­fer fee.

Barkley is re­build­ing his rep­u­ta­tion af­ter a dif­fi­cult start at Stam­ford Bridge, also earn­ing a re­call to Gareth South­gate’s Eng­land squad fol­low­ing a two-year ab­sence. The 24-year-old suf­fered a se­ri­ous ham­string in­jury shortly af­ter com­plet­ing his move from Ever­ton in Jan­uary and made only two Pre­mier League starts un­der Sarri’s pre­de­ces­sor, An­to­nio Conte.

But he is shin­ing un­der new man­age­ment and is in line to face Ever­ton for the first time to­mor­row.

“In the first month I was here, he was in trou­ble,” said Sarri. “Then he started to im­prove in ev­ery train­ing, in ev­ery match. I am sur­prised at how quickly he has adapted if I think back to the first month, but not if I think of the last two months.

“I like him very much, be­cause I think he is a com­plete player. I think he’s on the way to be­com­ing a very im­por­tant mid­fielder, not only in Eng­land.”

Barkley has started three of the past four games un­der Sarri and is hop­ing to face Ever­ton, though he is ex­pect­ing a hos­tile re­cep­tion from the away fans. “I don’t think it will be the best. There might be a few who might say a few good things,” he said. “On the day I might get a few nerves as it will feel a bit strange. I’m look­ing for­ward to catch­ing up with some of the staff.”

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