Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri has praised Ross Barkley’s ability and backed him to go from unrefined outsider to disciplined midfield figure.
Barkley, 24, endured a torrid start to life at Stamford Bridge last season as a combination of injury and poor form restricted him to just two Premier League appearances following his January arrival from Everton.
But the former England international has come in from the cold under Sarri and played a full 90 minutes in the 2-0 loss to Manchester City in the Community Shield on Sunday.
Despite the defeat, Sarri took encouragement from Barkley’s performance, highlighting his quality on the ball.
“I like him, he’s a technical player. I like him very much,” the Chelsea boss said.
“He has to improve on the defensive phase, I think. It’s difficult in this moment to play with Jorginho, Cesc [Fabregas] and Ross all together.
“But I like him. I think he will be a very useful player for us.”
Sarri’s concerns over his midfield trio stemmed from the control City’s own three-man grouping exerted at Wembley.
With his side outrun for much of the contest, the Italian admits there is work to be done before the club’s season-opener away to Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
“In this moment we have the idea to press. Sometimes we press in the right way, sometimes no,” he said.
“We have the idea to be in control of the match but today we were not in control of the match. It is a long way we have to work.
“It’s not very easy. In the next week we have a friendly match [against Lyon on Tuesday] and I prefer in this moment to be on the pitch with the players for training.”