After what proved to be something of a car-crash campaign for Everton last time out, the hope among supporters would have been to see their club make significant investment in the playing squad in order to spark a drastic improvement upon that narrow relegation escape.
At present, though, the Goodison Park faithful are seemingly preparing themselves for another survival scrap next term, having only brought in former Burnley stalwart James Tarkowski on a free transfer so far this summer.
That astute, albeit uninspiring, addition has also been further overshadowed by the departure of talisman Richarlison to Tottenham Hotspur, with the Toffees yet to invest any of his reported £60m transfer fee.
Amid that stark lack of transfer action and the dire need for new additions, one name who has emerged as a potential option is that of Ross Barkley, with the 28-year-old having been tipped to make a return back to where it all began for him.
As per The Mirror, Frank Lampard and co have been offered the chance to sign the England international this summer from Chelsea, with the west London outfit seemingly desperate to cut ties with a player who has largely been surplus to requirements during his time at Stamford Bridge.
While once an impressive emerging star for the Merseysiders, a reunion this summer with Barkley may not go down too well with supporters, with journalist Paul Brown suggesting there could be a “massive backlash” if the midfielder is to make a shock homecoming.
The local lad irked his former club due to the nature of his departure in January 2018, as the Toffees lost out on a £35m transfer fee the previous summer as the playmaker reportedly changed his mind over the deal, only to then join Chelsea for just £15m a few months later.
Furthermore, his addition to Lampard’s squad would also be a bizarre move due to his lack of regular game-time in recent years. The 33-cap midfielder had just six top-flight outings last term, only one of which came from the start.
His only real regular run in the team came under Maurizio Sarri in the 2018/19 campaign, when he made 48 appearances across all fronts under the Italian. Last season, his 14 appearances in all competitions amounted to a mere 452 minutes.
Previously likened to the great Paul Gascoigne in his youth, it has been an almighty fall from grace for the 6 foot 2 menace – who was once described as “woeful” by journalist Daniel Storey – over the last few years.
The rationale behind a possible move could be to try and rediscover the previous bright form he showcased in his early career – where he provided 55 goal contributions in 179 games for Everton – although Lampard has seemingly already been stung by trying to rekindle the career of another once-exciting prospect in Dele Alli.
The 26-year-old arrived from Tottenham Hotspur in January after falling out of favour in north London, although he went on to make just one league start for Everton in the second half of last season, doing little to warrant his reported £100k-per-week wages.
That dismal stint has been followed by another horror moment in pre-season, with the one-time MK Dons man inexplicably failing to convert a chance with the goal at his mercy in the recent 4-0 defeat to MLS side Minnesota United.
While he did recover to net a brace against Blackpool at the weekend, the indication is that he is already proving a costly mistake, amid reports that the club could already look to cash in on him this summer.
Not only would it make little sense to acquire a player who features in a similar position in the form of Barkley, being lumbered with another former England international who is on the decline is seemingly a recipe for disaster.
Also on a reported £100k-per-week wage at Stamford Bridge, Barkley could well follow his compatriot in being yet another expensive error of the Farhad Moshiri era at Everton.
Lampard must surely look elsewhere…