Liverpool mayor says police find no wrongdoing in Ross Barkley's move
Merseyside Police have informed Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson that they can find no evidence of criminal activity in Ross Barkley's £15 million move from Everton to Chelsea, but the midfielder must wait a little longer to play for his new club.
Barkley was confirmed as a Chelsea player in the first week of January, less than six months after having a dramatic change of heart about a move to Stamford Bridge in the final hours of the summer transfer window -- and once a £35m fee had been agreed with Everton.
Anderson contacted the police, as well as the Football Association and the Premier League, to urge them to investigate whether Everton had been the victims of a deliberate attempt to drive down Barkley's value to benefit Chelsea and the player.
But in a written response, Merseyside Police's assistant chief constable, Serena Kennedy, confirmed that there is "no evidence that a criminal offence has occurred."
"I have had a response from the police saying that they don't think there is anything criminal but they said they have written to the Football Association to let them know that if their own investigations unearth anything, to inform them," Anderson said.
"I wanted the FA and the Premier League to look at their own protocols because they should have a concern that if a deal was agreed with the player in August and then 16 weeks later the deal is resurrected but for £20m less -- then yes, it should be a concern.
"I did write the letter as a football fan, [but] the purpose was for people -- including the Football Association -- to have a debate about this issue."
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said Tuesday that Barkley will not be able to make his debut for his new club in Wednesday's FA Cup third-round replay against Norwich City because he was not registered in time.
Conte intended to bring Barkley off the bench in order to step up his return to full fitness, but Chelsea learned that since the midfielder was not registered for the original game against Norwich -- a goalless draw at Carrow Road -- he is not eligible for the replay.
Chelsea will now arrange a friendly behind closed doors at their Cobham training centre this week in an attempt to speed up Barkley's recovery. Conte remains hopeful that the 24-year-old could be in contention for Saturday's trip to Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League.
Asked when he became aware of Barkley's ineligibility, Conte said he learned of the decision on Sunday.
"[Club ambassador and assistant to the head coach] Carlo Cudicini informed me about this new situation," Conte said Tuesday. "Two days ago, I was sure Ross Barkley could play against Norwich. To start? No. But, for sure, to play a part of the game.
"Now we are preparing a friendly game for him during this week and then we will see his physical condition. But I'm very happy for his commitment and physical condition. He could be ready for the next game [against Brighton], or for [the second leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal against Arsenal]."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.