It has been confirmed by the club that Ross Barkley has completed a one-year loan move to Aston Villa. In this piece, I will look at whether this the right decision by the club, and the effect it may have on Chelsea’s season in the long run?
Ross Barkley’s Chelsea career has ultimately been a successful one. With two trophies in 3 seasons to his name and some pivotal performances in blue, the Englishman has divided opinions across the entire fan base. Whether you like him or not, it can’t be denied that Ross Barkley has given his all in a Chelsea shirt, and will be missed throughout this season.
So with that being said, why is this transfer so important?
Given the fact that it is now unlikely for Chelsea to bring anyone into the club to replace Barkley, the attacking midfield options are now very thin. With Ruben Loftus Cheek struggling to find his feet after a spell of injuries halting his development, it leaves Chelsea with the aforementioned Loftus Cheek, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz as attacking options as either 8s or 10s. New signing Hakim Ziyech can also comfortably play in the middle, but it is more than likely we will see the Moroccan international start out on the right when he is back from injury, due to the departures of Willian and Pedro leaving Chelsea thin on the ground in wide options.
With this being said, was it the right call for Barkley to go out on loan? It will only take one injury to either Mason Mount or Kai Havertz to severely put Chelsea on the back foot. Youngster Conor Gallagher also left the club earlier this month to complete a one-year loan move to West Bromwich Albion, which is another option gone for the season. With the Carabao Cup exit last week, Chelsea will have fewer games, however, fatigue and possible injury will still be a huge factor, and Chelsea may really miss Barkley’s presence come December when games come thick and fast. On the other hand, Barkley would not have been used as a key player this season, and Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech would have been selected before Barkley, meaning this move may not be the worst decision by the club, as it gives Barkley a chance to develop away from the club.
Good move for Barkley?:
It is likely that Barkley would have been used predominantly off the bench this season, so from his perspective the move is perfect. He is almost guaranteed regular first-team football at Villa Park, and at the age of 26, Barkley will still want to fight for his place in the England squad. The move to Aston Villa allows him much more of an opportunity for this than if he was to stay at Chelsea, which makes this move a smart one for him.
Barkley fits into Aston Villa’s side comfortably, with Dean Smith being able to play him along side Jack Grealish as two 8’s, or deploying either man on the left flank with the other playing as a 10, allowing Villa to create attacks with more versitility. Barkley in the side allows for John McGinn and Douglas Luiz to cover the defensive duties, which will ultimately strengthen the Villa back line. This move also takes the pressure off of Barkley as at a club like Chelsea, the expectations are through the roof, whereas a season at Villa Park will allow Ross to play with more confidence, which will improve his overall game.
Another reason as to why this move is a strange one from Chelsea’s point of view is that Barkley is a player with a lot of quality, and on his day, can create moments which win games, for example, his goals against Liverpool and Leicester in the FA Cup last season. Barkley also changed the game against Brighton on the opening weekend this season, adding fight and determination to a pretty stale encounter, thus leading to Chelsea’s triumph. Barkley is a very important player to have in the squad, so this transfer could prove to be costly for the Blues in the long run.
Thankfully, this is only a loan deal, meaning Barkley will return at the end of the season. Should Chelsea manage without the Liverpudlian, Ross may depart on a permanent basis if he has a successful season away from the Bridge. If this is the case, Chelsea will need to look at a replacement, whether it is just a squad strengthener or a marquee signing. Nonetheless, we wish Ross the best of luck at Aston Villa.