Equal parts brilliant and abysmal, there has never been a dull moment with Frank Lampard's Chelsea this season. The Blues have had a wildly inconsistent season up until now with the novice head coach trying his best to ensure European qualification next season. The majority of fans, however, remain behind the club legend understanding the challenges which he had to face in his first season.
Chelsea lost Eden Hazard in the summer to Real Madrid for a club-record fee. However, they were unable to spend it on reinforcements due to a transfer ban issued by FIFA. Injuries, both old and new, further tried to derail the Blues' season, nonetheless, they stand firm in the fourth and final Champions League spot.
Frank Lampard has had to rely upon a certain group of players this season, owing to Chelsea's transfer ban. However, with the ban now lifted, the club is expected to spend heavily in the summer on a rebuild, putting the futures of several underperforming players in doubt.
We take a look at three such heavily criticized players who Chelsea would be better off holding on to for next season.
#3 Ross Barkley
Stamford Bridge erupted with joy when Ross Barkley ran half the pitch to score past Adrian in the Liverpool goal in the FA Cup. The former Evertonian had the skill, the pace, and the finish in him all along, as evident from his days at the Goodinson Park, and yet not many inside Chelsea's home ground expected him to do what he did.
Barkley joined the London side back in the January transfer window of 2018 in a deal worth a reported £15 million. It was a smart move from Chelsea, who had sown the seeds of his capture back in the summer and ended up paying a cut-price figure for the England international. However, the midfielder did not enjoy during his first half-season at Stamford Bridge, with head coach Antonio Conte using him just four times.
Things improved for him under new coach Maurizio Sarri, albeit not for long. Barkley did enjoy spells of good form during the Italian's stint at the club but ended up losing his place to both Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek eventually.
The England international has remained inconsistent even under Frank Lampard this season. He showed signs of promise during the club's pre-season but was unable to sustain it as the campaign moved forward. He was eventually restricted to the bench by Lampard from where he has made most of his appearances this season.
As a result, when he ran past several Liverpool players to score the winning goal in Chelsea's recent FA Cup tie, fans were left pleasantly surprised. It was a display of talent which the Englishman has always possessed but which the Blues faithful have only seen in glimpses.
Barkley is yet to show his best to Stamford Bridge but he is a player Chelsea must hold on to next season. His versatility offers Frank Lampard an option in the middle of the park, one which is expected to be very useful in his team's run-in given their injury troubles. Furthermore, he has the ability to change the outcome of matches on his own, something which resulted in the club buying him in the first place.