Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has confessed that he failed to find a new temporary home for fringe midfielder Ross Barkley, but vowed to give the Englishman a fair crack at minutes over the next six months.
Barkley had been expected to leave Chelsea during the summer - a stance only strengthened by the Blues' capture of Saul Niguez on deadline day - but he failed to receive any suitable offers and saw a potential switch to Burnley break down late on.
He has been handed a squad number, but Barkley is well down the pecking order at Chelsea, with Saul, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and N'Golo Kante all ahead of him.
“He tried to go on loan again, to find a club, but it is not easy,” Tuchel said (via The Telegraph). “The situation out there, the financial impact from corona to clubs abroad and clubs also within the country is huge. It's not easy to find clubs who are able to invest.
“It's hard to see people struggling and struggling with the situation. But the quality that Ross brings to the pitch could help a lot of clubs in Europe.
“He accepts the situation that it was not an over-performance from him at Aston Villa, so he cannot demand that we rely on him as the top midfielder in the next season. I'm sure that he himself worries a lot about the situation."
Barkley has now been left in purgatory alongside Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with neither player appearing to be in Tuchel's plans after the boss confirmed that he signed Saul because he was "nervous to go into the season with three midfielders" - Jorginho, Kovacic and Kante.
“All I say is that, for example, with [Barkley], and with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, I'm super happy," Tuchel continued. "We had the in-house game here and the two did fantastic.
"They trained very, very well despite their personal situations, which is maybe sometimes not the nicest one to have as a competitor, as a boy who has dreams, high hopes and loves his sport.
“[Barkley] does not have to love the situation, but he needs to accept it in a positive way. This is what I feel from him and, hopefully, he can keep this spirit up.”