Celtic have been handed a boost in their pursuit of former England international, Ross Barkley, amid persistent rumours linking the midfielder to Parkhead.
As per Chelsea’s official website, the 28-year-old is now a free agent after seeing his contract prematurely ripped up at Stamford Bridge, having spent the past four-and-a-half seasons in west London after joining from Everton back in January 2018.
That has seemingly opened the door for the playmaker to secure a new home after a frustrating stint with the Blues, with the Old Firm outfit one of those clubs who are believed to be vying for his signature – alongside bitter rivals Rangers.
Despite the Englishman’s recent struggles – having made just one league start last term – it would still represent a significant coup for the Glasgow side to be able to poach a player of undoubted “quality” – as described by Thomas Tuchel.
A “diamond” of a player – in the words of talkSPORT pundit Trevor Sinclair – the Liverpool-born menace had been tipped for big things in his youth amid comparisons to the likes of Wayne Rooney and Paul Gascoigne, with a fresh start needed to help finally deliver upon that unfulfilled potential.
While struggles with injury and the wealth of competition for places at his now former club saw Barkley restricted to just 100 appearances in all competitions for the two-time European champions, he had blossomed when afforded a consistent run in the side under Maurizio Sarri, recording 11 goal contributions in 48 appearances during the 2018/19 season.
That will no doubt be of interest to Ange Postecoglou, with the former Yokohama boss having been compared to the chain-smoking Italian for his tactical approach – with the midfielder potentially set to have a role to play in the 56-year-old’s side at Celtic Park.
The departure of Sarri subsequently saw the 6 foot 2 sensation fall out of favour, however, having failed to replicate the impact that he had during his time at Goodison Park, where the £10.8m-rated ace scored 27 goals and provided 28 assists in 179 games after rising through the youth ranks.
Moving to an arguably less competitive league such as the Scottish Premiership could well inspire a turnaround in fortunes for the one-time Aston Villa loanee, while his previous Champions League experience could prove vital as the Hoops’ continental voyage gets underway next month.
Equally, at just 28, he still has time on his side to kickstart his stuttering career, with it set to prove a notable bargain if Ange Postecoglou and co can help him to deliver the goods after signing him on a free.
Amid doubts over the future of young Matt O’Riley, Barkley could well be the statement addition that is needed to provide another creative option in the centre of the park.