Premier League • England

EXCLUSIVE: Ross Barkley decision imminent as new suitor rivals Everton, Leeds

Ross Barkley representing Chelsea

The future of Everton and Leeds target Ross Barkley’s looks set to be decided imminently, while TEAMtalk understands that a new suitor has joined the race for his signature.

The England midfielder has featured on the fringes of Thomas Tuchel’s squad this season, but a host of clubs have made contact about his availability in the upcoming January transfer window.

As it stands Chelsea are yet to give a firm decision on whether to let him go. However, those clubs showing interest are of the belief that he is likely to be available.

Barkley’s former club Everton are keen on a possible loan but they are not alone, with future big-spending Newcastle, Burnley and Leeds all keen.

We can also reveal that Graham Potter’s Brighton have also registered an interest in the playmaker.

Barkley still believes he is capable of earning an England recall ahead of the 2022 winter World Cup.

However, he knows he needs to be playing on a more regular basis to catch Gareth Southgate’s eye.

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Lukaku told to make Chelsea apology

Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku must apologise to Chelsea for showing Thomas Tuchel such big disrespect amid claims he faces something of a ticking off from director Marina Granovskaia.

The 28-year-old became the Blues record signing when he returned to the club he left back in 2014. They paid Inter £97.5m for the Belgium international who penned a five-year deal in west London. The former Manchester United ace began well back at the Bridge, scoring in his first game away at Arsenal.

Three defenders Chelsea are targeting in January

Three defenders Chelsea are targeting in January

Chelsea are reportedly making plans to sign three new defenders in January.

But he then suffered an ankle injury, missing five weeks of action. The ex-Everton star has bagged five goals and scored on Wednesday as Chelsea drew 1-1 with Brighton.

However, it seems all is not well in the camp. Lukaku made no secret of his love for Inter before arriving in the capital.

And he has doubled down on those feelings, aiming a dig at manager Thomas Tuchel along the way.

“Physically I’m fine. But I’m not happy with the situation at Chelsea. Tuchel has chosen to play with another system – I won’t give up, I’ll be professional,” he told Sky Sports Italy, per the Daily Star.

“I am not happy with the situation but I am professional – and I can’t give up now.”

The Antwerp-born forward scored 64 goals from 95 appearances in all competitions for the Serie A champions. And his latest comments will worry both Tuchel and the Chelsea fans.

“I think everything that happened last summer was not supposed to happen like this, how I left Inter, the way I left the club, how I communicated with Inter fans – this bothers me because it was not the right time,” he added.

Lukaku facing possible fine

Now, it seems Lukaku could be made to regret those comments. While the interview was recorded several weeks ago, it only aired on Thursday – making the timing of it extremely awkward.

Nonetheless, Lukaku is likely to face a ticking off from Granovskaia for going public with his frustrations and may also face a fine.

Furthermore, pundits Darren Bent and Trevor Sinclair were lost for words by Lukaku’s comments.

Romelu Lukaku v Brighton December 2021

They feel he owes Chelsea, and Tuchel in particular, a huge apology for what he has said.

Sinclair told talkSPORT: “I’m in absolute shock. I was at Chelsea’s win against Villa and I watched him in the warm up.

“I was intrigued because he was out for a while and wondered what his mood was going to be like – he was smiling, laughing, he looked like he was loving being back in the Chelsea squad.

“The second-half performance cemented what I was thinking. He looked happy, he played happy, got a goal, an elite striker’s goal and then the third goal where he won the penalty I thought was one of the best runs to earn a penalty from him I’ve seen in a long time.

Chelsea fans deserve better

“For him to come out with those comments, I think he should be apologising to the Chelsea fans. That’s so disrespectful to the Chelsea fans.

“I think that’s so disrespectful to the Chelsea manager. I’d be astounded if he hadn’t had a conversation with Thomas Tuchel about this.

“He might not have got the answer he wanted but you don’t come out in public and say this. I think it’s disrespectful to his teammates and I think it’s disrespectful to the owner.

“He’s 28 years old. A lot of Chelsea’s front line will look up to Lukaku, I think he’s let them all down.”

READ MORE: Man Utd, Liverpool miffed as Chelsea closing in on cheaper Declan Rice option