It’s fair to say that Ross Barkley hasn’t exactly enjoyed the greatest times of Aston Villa this season.
The midfielder has been on loan at Dean Smith’s side from fellow Premier League outfit Chelsea and has managed just three goals all season in the top-flight.
Speaking in his post-match press conference after the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday, the Villa manager confirmed that no talks over a permanent deal had taken place with Chelsea.
He said: “Ross Barkley came in on loan at the start of the season. Obviously, Frank was the manager at the time we did a deal to bring him in on loan. That’s where it was. He’s got another two years left on his contract at Chelsea and that’s not been discussed at all.”
In letting Barkley go in the summer and signing Jesse Lingard from Manchester United instead, Johan Lange could help to build a dream attack for Smith.
Reports in recent days have suggested that Villa are now ready to battle West Ham in the race to sign the £13.5m-rated ace from Manchester United this summer, and it’s a move which could pay off big time for Smith.
The England international’s ability to break the lines with his movement and constant running is something which has added a different dimension to West Ham’s game, and is a trait that Michael Carrick was quick to praise back at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils coach said of Lingard: “He senses where the space is and how to use it. I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s a dribbler with skills and tricks but he’s dynamic. How he plays, he is unique in some ways. You don’t see so much of that now as everyone wants to get on the ball. Off the ball, he’s very effective.”
With Ollie Watkins and Jack Grealish being the main sources of goals and creativity respectively this season for Villa, bringing Lingard into the side would go a long way towards building a devastating attack.
The 28-year-old could be the man to support Watkins and break beyond him into the box whenever the striker holds up the ball or runs the channels, while Grealish should also love playing with someone who will constantly move off the ball looking for pockets of space into which to run.
A revitalised Lingard seems like a perfect fit for Smith, and someone who could easily replace Barkley at Villa Park.