Chelsea need to reduce numbers at multiple positions, including in central midfield, before the start of the season. We haven’t actually signed any new players there, but with N’Golo Kanté and Ruben Loftus-Cheek looking their healthiest in 18 months, we have at least five players for central midfield, and more if we expand the definition to include more attacking roles (Mason Mount, Kai Havertz could certainly fill in if needed there).
Meanwhile, Aston Villa are looking for a “No.8”, i.e. an attacking central midfielder.
Put those two together, and we have the rumor form the Telegraph, which claims that Villa are “weighing up” a loan bid for Ross Barkley and might follow that with a similar bid for Ruben Loftus-Cheek if they cannot afford Barkley’s £120k wages — though RLC’s wages are probably quite similar, if not even higher, so...
If we have a choice, sending Loftus-Cheek would probably be the more beneficial in both the short- and the long-term. In the short-term, a loan could give him ample time to recover properly from his Achilles injury and get his comfort and confidence levels back up. In turn, that would create the long-term benefit of him potentially achieving his potential for Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Ross Barkley has proven a useful squad player and is versatile enough to play in a midfield-two or three, depending on opposition and tactics. If we have to rely on him too much, we’re probably in trouble, but as a substitute or a spot starter, he’s a good player to have. He will be 27 next summer, at which point he will have to years left on his contract and if RLC is ready again, or we bring in some other reinforcements, we could maximize his value in a transfer.