Despite a few stray rumors in the last few days, this morning’s announcement that Ross Barkley had joined Aston Villa on loan for the season came as a bit of surprise, especially as Ross had spent the previous night sitting on the bench at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as Chelsea tried to advance to the quarterfinals of the League Cup.
Unfortunately we failed in that endeavor and Barkley didn’t play, which seemed head-scratching at the time, but perhaps understandable in retrospect. With this move probably already lined up, risking injury would’ve been foolish for his own sake.
But sitting on the bench also underlined the primary aim of this loan: playing time. His minutes dropped drastically from Sarri’s season last year, from 2700 (in 48 appearances, 30 starts) to just 1700 (31 app’s, 19 starts) under Lampard, and that situation didn’t look to be improving this season either. At age 26, going on 27, this is certainly the time for him to be playing regularly, especially with the
2020 2021 European Championships coming up next summer and the 2022 World Cup the following year.
And that’s precisely how he explained his decision to join in his first interview with Villa TV.
“It was the chance to play more regularly and obviously a massive club like Villa, it’s great to be here and I’m looking forward to the season.”
“[The Euros are] a big influence. The last couple of years I’ve been stop-start really, performing and then out the team. To come here and have the chance to play regularly was a big thing. With the Euros being at the end of the season it’s a big target of mine to be there and be in the squad.”
Barkley revealed that he had been chatting with Villa captain and “mate” Jack Grealish for “the past couple weeks” as well, but it was the word of Villa manager Dean Smith that “swayed” him into joining.
“They know my strengths and what I’ll add to the team. Going forward, wanting to improve this season compared to last season. He swayed me with the way he spoke to me and it looks like it’s going to be an exciting season.”
“[I can play as a] box-to-box in a midfield three, getting goals, getting assists and linking up [as] number eight, going forward and getting goals and chipping in with defensive duties as well.”
-Ross Barkley; source: Villa TV via Birmingham Mail
Smith himself says he’s quite excited to get Barkley to join, so hopefully it works out well for the former Everton prodigy.
“Capturing a player of Ross’s quality is a real coup for our club and I am certain he will thrive here and improve our team.”
-Dean Smith; source: Birmingham Mail
Barkley has three years still left on his Chelsea contract and while Villa do not have a buy-option, they will reportedly consider making a transfer bid at the end of the season, should things work out well.
Good luck, Ross!