Comment: Ross Barkley needs to start finding pre-season and England form for Chelsea otherwise he should fear for his place and future
Since joining Chelsea, Ross Barkley came in trying to chase minutes to build his fitness when he arrived from Everton, and the shackles were still on him under Maurizio Sarri last season.
But the start of pre-season marked the attacking midfielder to be an exciting prospect for the season - it appeared that the tide was changing for the 25-year-old at Stamford Bridge.
In battle with Lampard's young star Mason Mount, the two were in direct competition to who would start for Chelsea long-term during pre-season. It was the time to impress, and boy they did.
Ross Barkley excelled for the Blues in their trips across Europe ahead of the new season, which was one of the most eagerly anticipated in years amongst the Chelsea supporters.
Pre-season 2019/20 form
Unfortunately for Barkley and Chelsea, it hasn't meant to be, just yet. The form shown in pre-season is nothing of what we've seen of the midfielder this season. It's been disappointing to say the least.
Mason Mount continued his pre-season form into the Premier League, and has gone strength to strength under Frank Lampard, whilst showing his versatility.
Premier League 2019/20 form
Premier League appearances
But the mystery surrounding this, is when Ross Barkley heads to international duty with England, he turns into the man Chelsea saw in pre-season.
That was reflected in his performance against Bulgaria on Monday night in Sofia. Barkley grabbed two goals and an assist - a complete contrast to what he produces under Frank Lampard at Chelsea.
But the form soon has to change for Ross Barkley, if not he could himself out of Chelsea quicker than he may have expected.
The midfield at Stamford Bridge is extremely competitive, with three spots only usually available every week, starting for Chelsea this season is no easy feat, and you need to be performing week in, week out - and Barkley isn't doing that right now, nor has he all season.
Mason Mount, Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to come back from injury too; that's six midfielders fighting for half of the spots.
The 25-year-old's biggest competition is Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but the midfielder should be more concerned with the arrival of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who is yet to have a return date from his Achilles injury.
Getting a spot in the matchday squad, let alone the starting XI has become a challenge this season, and with the rate Mason Mount is going, Barkley won't be getting ahead of him any time soon in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.
Now it's between him and Loftus-Cheek for a spot on the bench - if Barkley doesn't pick up his form - which has been non-existent since pre-season - and the returning Loftus-Cheek does, then Barkley's Chelsea future could be in huge doubt.
Down the pecking order, and out of the matchday squad. Things will quickly turn bleak for Ross Barkley however harsh it may be.
His frustration will continue to grow, and then the next step will be to ask for a move away, or Chelsea to list him as available to buy because he's surplus to requirements.
Ross Barkley has to start picking up form, even if they are cameo appearances off of the bench, he has to start making an impact, otherwise the only impact he will be having is on Chelsea's finances when he is sold.