The shock move of the January transfer window was Ross Barkley, following his decision to swap Goodison Park for Stamford Bridge, leaving his boyhood club for £15 million.
After the Bournemouth match, he suffered a hamstring injury and has not featured since.
The attacking midfielder returned to U-23 action earlier this month, but even as he nears his full return from the sidelines, it is increasingly unclear where Barkley fits into the Chelsea squad.
Suddenly Barkley, who was considered as one of England’s most impressive young players just a couple seasons ago, now faces a struggle for regular first-team football. It was baffling that he made the big move after an injury-hit first half of the season, rather than coming off an impressive campaign for Everton.
The Liverpool native now seems destined to become yet another piece in the elaborate Chelsea loan puzzle. At a time when Barkley should be reaching his peak as a player, he is instead deprived of a regular starting place and has no settled club.
All of these circumstances would have been far better if the midfielder had remained at Goodison Park.
Barkley would have had a welcoming club and a familiar environment in which to work in at Everton. These factors would have gone a long way for a player who is yearning for stability in a crucial junction of his career.
In addition, Barkley would have been granted the opportunity to learn from one of the Premier League’s greatest players in Wayne Rooney. The wisdom and mentorship of Rooney could have proven invaluable for the 24-year-old.
However, Barkley must now deal with life away from the Toffees, and prepare to most likely be sent out on loan next season. How the English international reacts could very well define his career.