West Ham United manager David Moyes has played down talk linking the club with a move for Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley.
Barkley has struggled to find his best form since moving to Stamford Bridge in January 2018 and is well down the pecking order under Frank Lampard.
The Hammers are reported to have been taking a look at the England international, although when he was quizzed on a potential transfer, Moyes was coy, per Andy Ha and Sam Inkersole of Football.London.
"Anything which we think will improve our side I will be interested to bring in," he said. "It's not easy to get British players. Maybe easier to get a Premier League player or from abroad but still trying to get the right ones in is important. We are working on two or three things at the moment but we are not close to anything."
Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror reported that Moyes would make an "audacious bid" to take Barkley on loan from Stamford Bridge in the January transfer window.
"Chelsea are so far refusing to loan Barkley, with the club insistent that he remains an important part of their first-team plans," Lewis said. "But Moyes is holding out hope that his former charge could be willing to pursue the regular first-team starts that would put him into Gareth Southgate's thinking for [UEFA] Euro 2020."
As football writer Colin Millar relayed, Moyes, who gave Barkley his Premier League debut at Everton, has a habit of signing players he has worked with previously:
Colin Millar @Millar_Colin
You have to admire the commitment of David Moyes to signing players he managed at Everton, whom he left seven years ago. Barkley would join Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar, Victor Anichebe, Joleon Lescott, Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson on players he has re-signed elsewhere. https://t.co/3Z4uGb0TfX
This season, Barkley has made just six Premier League starts. Mason Mount returned from a loan spell at Derby County in the summer and usurped him, Mateo Kovacic has established himself in the side and Ruben Loftus-Cheek is still working to return from injury.
Per Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph, in addition to his inconsistent form, Barkley has also been criticised for his off-field behaviour; Lampard said the player was "lacking professionalism" after he was filmed dancing topless in a Dubai nightclub in November.
Barkley has started the Blues' past two games, though, and rewarded Lampard's faith with a goal in the FA Cup third-round win over Nottingham Forest:
Even so, it's difficult to see where Barkley fits in at Chelsea long term. While there's no doubt he has bags of talent, his inconsistency lets him down, with the midfielder renowned for making poor decisions and dwindling on the ball.
At 26, Barkley should be in the peak years of his career. While the Blues may dig in their heels to prevent a January transfer, at the end of the season, you sense the former Everton man will assess his situation.