• Nathan Smith


In a signing that came from out of nowhere, Aston Villa have managed to get their hands on enigmatic midfielder Ross Barkley. 

The season-long loan is no doubt a coup for the Villains who already boast the creative ability of Jack Grealish and John McGinn. 

This season is going to be a very important one for Barkley, as he looks to regain his spot in the England squad ahead of the upcoming 2021 Euros. 

The idea of Ross Barkley is a fantastic one. 

His great physique along with his ability to power past players and his eye for goal was one of the reasons he was once one of England’s most sought-after prospects.

However, a mix of inconsistency and injury problems have meant that is has never really worked out on a consistent basis at Chelsea, who he moved to in 2018 from Premier League rivals Everton. 

Dean Smith is building a strong side at Villa Park, with the summer additions of Ollie Watkins and Matty Cash, building on the likes of club captain Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings who have already proven themselves in the Premier League. 

So where would Barkley fit in Aston Villa’s side?

Aston Villa tend to line up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Douglas Luiz holding and John McGinn and Conor Hourihane on either side of him. Their front three consists of a lone striker, often Ollie Watkins, with Trezeguet on the right and Grealish on the left. 

Grealish’s role in the team is not that of a traditional left winger, as he is the main creative outlet, the Villa captain can almost roam freely around the pitch, picking up the ball in spaces and spearheading attacks. While Grealish does not often come out to Trezeguet’s side, he is definitely more inclined to move wherever to wherever he can influence the game. 

Over his time at Chelsea, Barkley has tended to play on the right or left of a three man midfield which if translated to Aston Villa, would mean that one of Hourihane or McGinn will have to lose their place in the starting eleven. It will certainly be no easy feat for Barkley to come into the team and take, then maintain his spot from two players who have been vital for the Villains resurgence. 

Like Grealish, Barkley likes to get on the ball and move it forward trying to open up space for a pass and a shot. He is a progressive dribbler, who looks to move the game forward whenever he is on the ball. 

Whilst Barkley wasn’t the most active presser at Chelsea, he can contribute well when it comes to defending from the front and with Watkins and Grealish in the team, Dean Smith’s side will look to pressure defenders on the ball. 

This season, Aston Villa have seemed to want to move the ball up the pitch together, with plenty of bodies supporting every attack and this would suit Ross Barkley greatly. While he can certainly pass, Barkley isn’t the Kevin De Bruyne type of playmaker and instead looks to lay-off the ball to players and play one-twos to try and create space. 

This is a very important season for Barkley, as a successful move here could relaunch not just his Chelsea career, but also his England career.