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Why Chelsea have it all wrong with Barkley - & the Atletico Madrid star to be gunning for instead

Chelsea's interest in Ross Barkley last summer was surprising to say the least. The young Englishman's talent is clear for all to see, but has he really done enough during his time with Everton to warrant a move to a club of Chelsea's calibre?

The summer transfer window featured a handful of U-turns as clubs missed out on players they wanted and some players failed to get the moves they were pushing for.

Chelsea's late foray into the market was more comical than it was tragic as they made spirited attempts to sign Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley, both of whom rejected the opportunity to move to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea managed to agree fees for both players, but in the end Oxlade-Chamberlain opted for a move to Liverpool and Barkley decided to remain at Everton until the January transfer window, reportedly due to his fitness and the uncertainty surrounding his would-be role at Chelsea.

He's already made it clear that he's keen on a move away from Everton so there are sure to be a number of clubs looking to sign him during, but Chelsea definitely shouldn't be one of them.

This season certainly hasn't gone according to plan for Antonio Conte considering the Blues are poised to lose their Premier League title to Pep Guardiola's Manchester City unless, of course, they can overturn a 22 point deficit over the next five months, which as you can imagine would be nothing short of a miracle capable of rivalling Leicester City's title win from the 2015/16 season.

So at this stage, Chelsea are realistically fighting to secure a top four finish, but more specifically, second place, in a bid to be the best of the rest as many would agree that Manchester City are in a class of their own this term.

Whilst City may be running away with the league title, the competition for a place in the top four remains still with only three spots up for grabs and five somewhat evenly-matched teams vying to fill those limited spots, hence, from now until the end of the season Chelsea cannot afford to let their performance levels drop – therein lies the problem with acquiring the services of Ross Barkley.

The 24-year-old is yet to play a single game of competitive football this season due to an injury, so should the Blues sign him, it would take a while for him to make an impact due to his lack of match fitness, lack of familiarity with Antonio Conte's system and a lack of experience actively fighting for a place in the top four.

We also have to look ahead to Chelsea's two-legged Champions League Round of 16 tie against a seemingly unstoppable Barcelona.

The Blues will be going up against a star-studded team, and in a bid to keep up with the Blaugrana they will need to field an attack full of both Champions League experience as well as the ability to create something out of nothing and Barkley, unfortunately, does not fit the bill.

On that note, Chelsea would be wise to make a move for out-of-favour Atletico star Yannick Carrasco.

Despite not being an out-and-out central player, Carrasco can be utilised in an attacking midfield role right next to his compatriot Eden Hazard and behind Alvaro Morata with Kante and Fabregas keeping things tidy in the middle of the park.

Carrasco would introduce a new dynamic to Chelsea's attacking third due to his creative prowess and high work rate. It remains to be seen, though, whether Antonio Conte will opt for the Belgian over Barkley.

Phillip Ekuwem
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Phillip Ekuwem

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