No, just no.
Some random chatter over the last couple of days, no doubt fuelled by World Cup nostalgia after seeing half a dozen ineffective England midfielders hit the wall against Croatia and Belgium as well as Everton’s stubborn refusal to buy anyone this summer so far, has linked Ross Barkley to a loan return to the Blues.
Let’s step in right there and reiterate.. no, just no.
The 2017-18 Everton season had so much potential but turned out to be scarier than a midnight showing of ‘The Quiet Place’. Barkley showed he had no intention of signing a new deal last summer, and played his part in a farcical non-transfer to Chelsea where he walked out of a medical (purportedly) after having sustained a hamstring injury (also purportedly) in training. After months on the sidelines, he ended up going to the Stamford Bridge side anyway during the January transfer window, with the Toffees desperate to offload the player for anything and a bag of peanuts since he was walking for free in the summer.
There were howls of outrage from the Blues’ fanbase, from no less a prominent figure than the Mayor himself Joe Anderson, who demanded an investigation be carried out for how the transfer was called off and then on again costing Everton a rumoured £20million in lost transfer fees.
To no one’s surprise and as Everton fans had warned, Antonio Conte took one look at Barkley for half an hour in a game and promptly decided he would play no part in Chelsea’s failed title defence, much like Davy Klaassen found himself on the fringes at Everton. Barkley just does not have the strong work ethic or quick decision-making expected of a #8 playing for a top-half Premier League side.
After three months he finally made his way back to the bench and even played most of Chelsea’s last game of the season, a 3-0 hiding away at Newcastle where he quite pointedly proved to everyone watching that there was no future for him at either Chelsea or Everton.
For Everton fans viewing him through blue-tinted glasses during the time he played here with Romelu Lukaku, it looked like the pair had a beautiful future lying in front of them. In his early twenties then, it looked like he was going on to become an England stalwart and would star in the 2018 World Cup that concludes today.
Barkley was virtually untouchable during the Roberto Martinez era and it can be argued that he was a big part of the Spaniard’s downfall too, with his failure to even remotely replicate the Xavi/Iniesta hybrid that Martinez’s system was crying out for.
However, once Ronald Koeman came in and brought some discipline to the ranks, Barkley’s fragile ego was immediately bruised. He did not like getting called out by the manager for lack of effort (who would, honestly?) but despite the infinite patience of the manager and the fanbase, he continued to refuse to apply himself or make changes proactively to improve his game.
Simply put, Barkley does not have smarts to convert the innate pace and skill he has into the complete package. And even though Everton could use a more complete #8 - Tom Davies is still rash and raw, while Idrissa Gueye (bless his unstoppable motor) does not have the offensive touch the position demands - bringing Barkley back is a step backward that we cannot see the Marcel Brands & Marco Silva pairing making.
The now 24-year-old might have been the victim of bad personal management and getting star-crossed, but that is just another sign of his poor decisions. He signed up for a Chelsea team where a more complete box-to-box midfielder like Ruben Loftus-Cheek was struggling to get game time and opted for a loan.
As a local boy and born-Blue, we would love nothing more for Ross Barkley to succeed and become a star, but he has burned his bridges at Everton and we feel never again should the twain meet.