Does Ross Barkley still have a chance of signing for Chelsea?
Barkley had rejected a move last summer, hoping to keep his options open in January
After refusing to join Chelsea in the summer transfer window before the season kicked of, and amidst growing interest from the same club, does Ross Barkley still have a chance to don the blue of the defending Premier League champions?
Everton play Chelsea for the third time this season (they faced each other in the Carabao Cup) as the games for the second half of the season begin, and the Toffees will be hoping to continue their good form since Sam Allardyce's arrival.
But besides the match, one name that will be mentioned will be that of Three Lions midfielder Ross Barkley who was a subject of transfer from Goodison Park to Stamford Bridge.
The Blues had a summer of failed transfers where they were unable to sign their first choice transfer targets and Barkley too could have been on their books if not for a U-turn on deadline day.
Antonio Conte, who expressed his disappointment back in September after the failed transfer, is understood to be interested in signing Barkley into his thin squad. The Italian sees him as an ideal player in the middle of the park and will be hoping to bolster his team which has lacked depth ahead of a busy 2018.
Chelsea are still competing on four fronts with the highlight being a two-legged Round of 16 clash with Barcelona in the Champions League.
After a pleasing 2016/17 campaign where he made 36 appearance and was involved in a total of 14 goals (5 goals and 9 assists), the 24-year-old attracted interest from a number of clubs with Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, and Tottenham all rumored to be interested in adding him to their squads.
Stamford Bridge looked set to be his destination after Chelsea beat all other competition and a deadline day signing alongside Danny Drinkwater was set to be announced before Barkley changed his mind at the 11th hour - a move that angered Chelsea.
At 24, the Everton Academy graduate has grown through the rigour of the Premier League and has established himself as one of league's consistent midfielders since making his senior team debut. He has already accumulated 150 appearances for Everton and a World Cup appearance for England.
With the ability to feature across any part of the midfield and up front in attack, Barkley possesses the qualities Conte desires in his players. Blessed with good vision, long balls accuracy, power, and a high work-rate; a partnership alongside N'Golo Kante could be the perfect pairing Conte has hoped for since the start of the campaign, bringing more stability to the Blues' midfield.
Currently out with a hamstring injury and yet to sign a new contract, he becomes a free agent in the summer and is reported to have started talks with potential buyers. Still waiting for a return back to the team, he is in a race to be in contention for a place in Gareth Southgate's squad when England travel to Russia for the World Cup next summer.
Already labeled a rebel by the Everton faithful and with the constant interest from London, the Englishman might be looking at another chance to move to the current champions after bailing out the last time and Conte would certainly welcome the idea of the player joining up.