Ross Barkley has finally broken silence over his controversial move from Everton to Chelsea in a wide-ranging interview with Sky Sports.
As we all know, Barkley was primed for a £35m move to Chelsea on transfer deadline day in August only to pull out of the deal at the last minute.
After spending four months rehabilitating himself at Everton’s expense, Barkley did finally make the move to Stamford Bridge earlier this month for £15m - considerably less than the fee agreed last summer.
Barkley, of course, has earned himself a hefty pay rise while the reported £7m paid to his agent adds further credence to the argument that the deal was deliberately torpedoed in August in order to earn everyone involved a bit more cash.
Evertonians were understandably left furious at Barkley who, upon leaving, also failed acknowledge what the club had done for him and the backing he’d received from the supporters.
Fans justifiably pointed to Theo Walcott’s reaction to leaving Arsenal for Everton this week as an example of how to behave when moving clubs.
Barkley has since sought to address that issue with a lengthy interview with Sky Sports, though I suspect many of the lines have been fed to him by his agent and management team.
On Everton, he said:
“Everton means the world to me. I am a boyhood fan, I am a local lad and have supported Everton all my life, it was a very hard decision but I felt it was right to make the jump to Chelsea. I am grateful for what the club did for me over the years and it was hard to leave. The fans were great with me.
”I am thankful for everyone at the club that helped me, the fans, the coaches that I have had, the staff that have helped with injuries, I am really grateful to everyone at Everton. It was like a family to me.
”I had never thought about leaving Everton over the years but it was getting to a point where I felt like I needed to make a move to improve as a player, and playing with the level of players here like Eden Hazard will only make you better.”
On his injury that scuppered the move to Chelsea last summer (despite a fee having been agreed between the two clubs), Barkley added:
“I had a massive injury, which was really bad. I ruptured my hamstring and before that I had surgery two weeks earlier on a hernia, so before the season has even started I had two surgeries.
”At the time I couldn’t even walk, I was in a brace for six weeks and couldn’t put any pressure through my legs so I didn’t feel it was right to make a move at the time. I wanted to weigh up all my options and really think about what I am going to do with the next stage of my career.
“I have never had a muscle injury before, it was a weird one in training, I went in for a tackle, slipped and felt a pop at the top end of my hamstring and I pulled the tendon off the bone. It was really bad.
”After a few days I was having surgery in London and my future was all up in the air and I thought it was best to focus on getting fit, which took a while, and then I thought this was the right move for me.”
And what about Chelsea? Well, unsurprisingly, Barkley said the chance to win silverware is what persuaded him to move south, as well as the opportunity to improve his game by playing with better players.
“I am ambitious and I want to win trophies and Chelsea are always known to win trophies and challenge for all the cups. That was purely my decision, to win things and challenge myself and play with world-class players.
”I have got to a level where I feel I needed to make the jump to Chelsea and push myself and get myself to a better level and playing with world-class players here is only going to help.
“I am obsessed with improving. I want to get to a level where I am regarded as one of the best and coming to a club like Chelsea if the right platform to improve.
”I want to be regarded as a world-class midfielder. At the moment I have a lot of potential and a lot of world-class attributes and I want to showcase that at a massive club like Chelsea and win things and be regarded as a top quality player.
“You can’t put many players up there with Hazard, he is unbelievable, he is up there with the best in the world, I have been training here for a couple of weeks and you can see how sharp he is. I am not the same type of player but if I could get anywhere near his level now I would be made up.”