Ross Barkley to make the most out of second chance
Five years ago, Ross Barkley was touted to be the next Paul Gascoigne in English football. The 2013/2014 season was Barkley’s breakout season as he became a vital cog in Roberto Martinez’s system. His staggering long-range goals coupled with powerful runs from midfield made him an idle box to box midfielder.
However, fast forward five years and Barkley has experienced stunted growth which can be attributed to persistent injuries. However, the footballing gods have granted the former Everton midfielder a second chance. A lifeline that comes in the form of Italian tactician, Maurizio Sarri.
Under Conte, Barkley never looked like he would get consistent playing time. Sarri’s system beseeches a player of Barkley’s quality. With Barkley fully fit, he is set to take this season by storm.
Sarri sets out to play a 4-3-3 system. In the three-man midfield, every player has a completely different role. Hamsik at Napoli is an embodiment of the requirements of the left central midfielder (LCM) in the “Sarriball” machine.
There are times when Hamsik was required to drop deep to overload the midfield or make late runs into spaces created by the forward players. To play such a role, one needs confidence on the ball, intelligence, stamina, finishing ability, good movement and an eye for a pass – these are qualities that Ross Barkley possesses.
Ross Barkley has amassed 152 Premier League appearances so far in his career and he is just 24 years old. In these 152 appearances, he has scored 21 goals from midfield and provided 18 assists. However, it is important to highlight that these 21 goals came whilst playing for a very defensive Everton side where he was required to play deep most of the time. Sarri improves players and we have seen that with Hamsik.
Under the Italian coach, Hamsik scored 25 league goals in 3 Serie A seasons. This achievement is rendered more impressive after taking into consideration that the front three usually get most of the goals in a campaign. Barkley has proved that he can be a good goal scorer and he certainly looks like he would develop under Sarri.
Whilst in Napoli, the “Sarriball demonstrated a bit of intentional bias to the players on the left side of the formation. Napoli habitually overloaded the left side of the pitch and Jorginho, the heart of the system played most of his passes to the left side - this can be seen in the pass maps below. (credit: 11tegen11)
.This means that a lot of attacks will go through Barkley, something he would enjoy. Barkley will have the responsibility of giving incisive through passes, linking up play and making late runs into the box. Barkley averages 40.05 passes every Premier League game, a number we expect to increase under Sarri.
Although he has created 26 big chances in his Premier League career so far, the English midfielder tends to shoot a lot whenever the chances arise. This is not a bad attribute but with a shooting accuracy of 29%, Barkley will have to work more on his shooting ability since he would be getting in more dangerous positions this season.
In the friendly game against Perth Glory, Ross Barkley showed glimpses of why he was once sought after by the big clubs in England. During the course of the game, he got into some really good positions and he appeared to be playing in a position that suits him more. He got the chance to be more creative and also made some marauding forward runs into the opponent’s box.
He started out on the left side of Jorginho and looked comfortable in the “Hamsik” role in the “Sarriball” machine. As I pointed out earlier, the Chelsea number 8 will have to work on his finishing as he couldn’t take advantage of two big chances against Perth Glory. It was an exciting match for Barkley and he looks encouraging going forward, he certainly looks confident in his new role.
Barkley ready for the season: "I felt good out there [vs Perth]. I have worked hard during the off-season. In this game I felt really strong. I came through a difficult spell but now I feel as strong as I have ever felt before and I am feeling fitter than I have every felt."
Ross Barkley had big shoes to fill when he was handed the legendary number 8 jersey of Chelsea. Due to persistent injuries, he did not have the best of starts to his Chelsea career but Sarri looks like the coach who can slowly ease him back into the heart of football fans. Sarri opted out of the Golovin move because he believes Barkley fits well into his system.
Once described as the next Paul Gascoigne and now tasked with the responsibility of filling Lampard’s shoes, Ross Barkley has a lot of pressure on his shoulders but the stage has been set for him and we can expect an explosive season from the 24-year-old.