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Everton’s Barkley completes Chelsea switch

Ross Barkley has completed his widely anticipated move from Everton to Chelsea, the reigning Premier League Champions announced on Friday.

The 24-year-old England midfielder has signed a five-and-a-half-year contract and will wear the number eight shirt. “I’m overwhelmed, I’m looking forward to it and I’m really excited to get started,” said Barkley. “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.”

A hamstring injury has kept Barkley out since August, which means he is eligible to play for Chelsea in all four competitions in which they are competing. “Ross is a player we have long admired and are certain he will prove to be an important player for Chelsea,” Chelsea club director Marina Granovskaia said. “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.”

Earlier, Conte talked up Barkley’s strengths at his press conference ahead of the side’s FA Cup third-round tie against Norwich on Saturday. “We are talking about an English player, a young player,” he added. “He has good prospects for Chelsea. I think the club decided for this investment also for his contract.” “I think this is a good opportunity for the club to buy this player. For sure he is a good prospect for Chelsea.”

Barkley has made 150 Premier League appearances for Everton, scoring 21 goals. A move to Chelsea on transfer deadline day in August did not materialise, meaning Barkley was available for a cut-price fee, reported to be in the region of £15 million ($20 million, 17 million euros). Conte earlier declined to address rumours West Ham striker Andy Carroll was a target, saying transfers were not his remit. He added: “The recruitment is not my job. The club try to do the best for this team, to try to improve this team.”

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