Everton boss Frank Lampard ended the recent window with eight new additions having arrived at Goodison Park to help bolster his squad, with the Toffees looking to improve upon last season’s scrap for survival.
One man that didn’t arrive through the door, however, was former academy graduate Ross Barkley, with the 28-year-old having only recently secured a surprise move to Ligue 1 side Nice on a free transfer.
Looking to revive his floundering career alongside a bizarre assortment of players including Kasper Schmeichel, Nicolas Pepe and Aaron Ramsey, the Englishman has finally brought to an end his time in English football, following what’s been a disappointing last few years.
Prior to that move to France, there had been suggestion that Lampard and co were keen on signing the 33-cap playmaker, with 90min at one stage reporting earlier this summer that the club were in ‘advanced talks’ to land the Liverpool-born man from Chelsea.
As it had happened, no such deal came to fruition, even with the one-time Aston Villa loanee seeing his contract prematurely ripped up by the Stamford Bridge outfit in order to allow him to secure a switch as a free agent.
While it is not known whether those at Everton simply had a change of heart or if Barkley himself simply opted against a return to his former club, the Merseysiders may well have dodged a bullet regardless by not adding him to their ranks.
Such an addition would likely have been somewhat unpopular due to the acrimonious nature of the player’s move to west London, having initially opted against a £35m switch to join the Blues in the summer of 2017, only to then make the move for just £15m a few months later with his contract running down at Goodison.
That seemingly left a bad taste in the mouth of those at his boyhood club as he had seemingly deprived them of a fairly hefty transfer fee, with it unlikely that he would have been welcomed back with open arms.
Equally, on a purely playing basis it would also have made little sense to recruit an asset who made just one Premier League start last season, having fallen way out of favour during his time in the capital in recent times.
That miserable spell saw the £10.8m-rated man score 12 goals and provide just 11 assists in 100 games across all competitions, with both injury and the sheer competition for places keeping him restricted to a viewing brief.
Even his temporary switch to Villa Park in the summer of 2020 failed to prove fruitful despite scoring two goals in his first two games, with journalist Gregg Evans ultimately dubbing him a “liability” as his form quickly tailed off for the Midlands side.
The 6-foot-2 dud had, of course, previously burst onto the scene during his time at Everton – providing 55 goal contributions in 179 games across all fronts – with his explosive talent even drawing comparisons to the likes of Wayne Rooney and Paul Gascoigne.
Signing the player off the back of past glories and early promise is rarely an astute move, however, with it being likely to have proven yet another blunder of the Farhad Moshiri regime had Barkley been allowed to return ‘home’.