Sarri surprised at rate of Barkley’s rise
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.”