Chelsea can numb the pain of failing to sign Wayne Rooney if they swoop for Everton midfielder Ross Barkley.
The Toffees midfielder has risen from academy graduate to key first team member and has been tipped to leave Goodison Park by former midfielder Kevin Kilbane.
Such fine performances have seen him compared to Rooney, who Jose Mourinho has twice been unsuccessful in signing during his time in English football.
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The 21-year-old was handed his debut in 2011 by David Moyes, who is also accredited with giving Rooney his bow in English football back in 2002.
Since the appointment of Roberto Martinez in the summer of 2013, Barkley has become Everton’s star man, with his contributions also helping former Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku rediscover his best form.
He was England’s best player in the chastening 2-0 defeat to Spain in early November and is likely to be part of Roy Hodgson’s plans for Euro 2016 in the summer.
Despite their impressive form, however, few expect Everton to be challenging for silverware, and a move to either Chelsea or United could be the move that prompts plenty of trophies to come the youngster's way.
With Barkley’s outstanding performances drawing plenty of comparisons with Rooney, Chelsea could decide to swoop having missed out on the latter in 2004 and 2013.
The Blues were gazumped by United’s willingness to pay in excess of £30 million to land the striker after his stunning displays fired England to the quarter-finals of the 2004 European Championships.
And in 2013 he was again rumoured to be tickling their fancy, with the Londoners given hope of signing him after his feud with Sir Alex Ferguson. Ultimately, he decided to stay and spearhead the Red Devils as they embarked on the Moyes era.
Mourinho’s ability to get the best out of his marksmen over the years has been well-publicised, but his failure to sign Rooney will no doubt rankle with him.
Everton will hold hope of securing a swift return to the Europa League after this year’s absence and would be reluctant to sell their academy graduate when the transfer window reopens in January.
A summer transfer looks more likely, but whether the Premier League champions will be able to prise him away from Merseyside is questionable given their lack of success in signing John Stones over the summer.
And given the way their season has gone so far, there is no guarantee of Champions League football at Stamford Bridge next term.
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