Chelsea fans are stunned to see Barkley start for the first time in months

Chelsea’s signing of Ross Barkley always had the feel of a club seeing a good business opportunity and taking it as opposed to purchasing a player with a clear and specific role in mind.

The England international had an expiring contract that drove his price down and the Blues invested in a player whose value went up as soon as he signed the long-term contract at Stamford Bridge.

That has been backed up by the former Everton man’s lack of gametime – even allowing for the injuries that have dogged his season, even at Goodison Park – under Antonio Conte.

That is why the Blues fans were stunned when the Italian named the playmaker in his starting 11 for the final match of the season, against Newcastle.

With the FA Cup final on the horizon next weekend, Conte has clearly looked to rest some of his big hitters but that didn’t dim the enthusiasm of the club’s fans about seeing Barkley play…