CHELSEA star Ross Barkley is shining this season because Maurizio Sarri is playing him in an advanced role.
That’s according to former Arsenal defender Martin Keown.
The 24-year-old arrived at Stamford Bridge from Everton in January but struggled to make an impact during his first six months at the club.
But after shaking off various injury problems, Barkley has established himself as a regular for the Blues in recent weeks.
The England international has scored in each of his last three Premier League games, while providing three assists.
“Barkley is one of the best players we have produced.”
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown
His excellent form earned him a recall to Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Barkley is thriving in Sarri’s attacking system, with the defensive-minded N’Golo Kante and Jorginho providing a protective shield in midfield.
And Keown believes Chelsea are benefitting from the freedom Barkley is being gifted.
“Barkley is one of the best players we have produced in terms of technical ability,” he told the Daily Mail.
“I will never forget the first time I saw him play.
“He was on loan at Sheffield Wednesday and I spent the whole match trying to work out if he was right or left-footed.
“He took one corner with his right, then later in the game took one from the other side of the pitch with his left.
“But talent can only get you so far.
“Now, the penny has dropped for him.
“He knows how to get the best from that talent.
“He knows where he needs to be on the pitch to maximise his ability.
“Maurizio Sarri is getting the best from him by playing him in an advanced midfield role.
“It suits all of his qualities and gets him into the final third often so he can work his magic.”
Chelsea return to Premier League action on Sunday as they welcome Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge.