Ross Barkley always believed that 2018-19 would be the year he made his mark at Chelsea, with the midfielder feeling like “a new signing” after rediscovering his form.
The 24-year-old completed a move to Stamford Bridge during the January transfer window, but arrived in west London nursing a “few niggles”.
Antonio Conte was forced to use him sparingly as a result, with just two Premier League outings taken in.
Barkley has, however, worked his way back to full fitness, with a starring role under Maurizio Sarri having helped to rebuild his confidence and earn an England recall.
The former Everton man said in the Evening Standard of his return to prominence: “I’m in a totally different frame of mind this season.
“When I first arrived, I was excited to join a massive club, with the ambition to achieve success. But I came here with a long-term injury, so I had to focus on just getting my body right and getting back to normal.
“Then I had a few niggles, so it was a bit stop-start. I knew then that this season was going to be my time, and that I would be more like a new signing this summer than I was in January, just because of where I was at physically.
“When you first come back from a long-term injury, you’re just trying to get your body in order and trying to get back into the training and match routine.
“That’s why it was important for me to get a strong pre-season under my belt, because it gives you the right platform. I’m back on track and I hope I’ll continue to improve, score goals and get assists.”
Barkley has found the target in his last two appearances for Chelsea.
His first goal for the club arrived in a 3-0 victory over Southampton, before he snatched the most dramatic of points in a 2-2 draw with Manchester United last time out.
Sandwiched between those outings, he also impressed for England during Nations League clashes with Croatia and Spain.
His full focus is now locked on club matters, as Chelsea prepare to face BATE in the Europa League on Thursday, and the talented playmaker is delighted with how things are going for both him and a side chasing down Premier League title glory.
Barkley adeed: “It’s brilliant how the team’s started.
“We’ve adapted really well to the manager’s system and started the season on fire. We’re unbeaten and that shows how well we’ve adjusted and also the manager’s style of play is really exciting for the players.
“So, you’re looking forward to games as a chance to take what you’ve learned on the training pitch onto the big stage. We have got the players who have achieved success before and we believe we are capable of doing that.”