?Chelsea have signed Everton midfielder Ross Barkley in a deal worth a reported £15m, on a ?five-and-a-half year deal.
The England international was heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge last summer, reportedly undergoing a medical before the move fell through, but has now joined the Blues – taking the number 8 shirt.
Barkley is yet to play a game this season, having been sidelined after hamstring surgery, and will be keen to get back to full fitness ahead of England’s World Cup campaign in Russia later this year.
The 24-year-old scored five goals and added eight assists last season as Everton finished seventh last season, qualifying for the Europa League.
Barkley said on his move: “I’m overwhelmed, I’m looking forward to it and I’m really excited to get started.
“To be given a fresh start at a new club like Chelsea, it’s unbelievable for me. I’m looking forward to continuing where I left off at the end of last season and hoping to improve and add more goals to my game.”
Club director Marina Granovskaia added: “Ross is a player we have long admired and are certain he will prove to be an important player for Chelsea. He possesses outstanding technical and physical attributes, matched with good experience of the Premier League and a strong desire to succeed at the highest level. We welcome him to the club and look forward to seeing him in action.”
Barkley will now compete with central midfielders N’Golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater and Cesc Fabregas for a starting position in Antonio Conte’s first choice XI. Conte spoke about his new signing earlier on Friday at his press conference, labelling him as a “?good prospect.”
He could also be utilised behind Alvaro Morata as an attacking midfielder, with Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro all appearing frequently behind a sole striker over the past year or so.
Barkley has not played for England since May 2016, appearing as a substitute in England’s 2-1 victory over Australia.