To some it was a complete non-starter, to others an entirely fabricated story, but it was the 16th of September when the first whispers of Ross Barkley to Villa emerged.
The fact is, that Villa’s move for Chelsea’s Ross Barkley looks to not only be a clever piece of business, one which immediately improves us, but has caught many by surprise too. It’s a loan deal that turns heads after a very productive summer recruitment programme at B6.
Barkley, boasting 33 international caps for England and a wealth of domestic (and European) experience, immediately challenges for a starting berth at Villa Park.
The 26 year old, with 9 senior seasons already under his belt, also arrives in good form and fitness. A season long loan makes perfect sense.
It remains a surprise that Frank Lampard, whose Chelsea side have yet to fully click following a close-season spending spree, saw no role for him this term. However, the Stamford Bridge side do have strength in depth, meaning any expectation of first team football for Barkley could never be guaranteed.
Intriguingly there had been an increasing interest from across the Villa fanbase in Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The midfielder, impressive before a long injury layoff, also now finds himself on the periphery at Chelsea.
However, the 24 year old has looked off the pace in what little game-time afforded to him since recovering and hasn’t played 90 minutes in 16 months. Thus, Loftus-Cheek did not represent the type of loan Dean Smith could expect to hit the ground running.
In contrast, Barkley arrives at Villa Park with a point to prove, first team opportunity and with the chance to impress Gareth Southgate ahead of next summers European Championships.
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