Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley has joined Aston Villa on loan for the season as Frank Lampard seeks to trim his bloated squad ahead of the close of the transfer window next Monday.
Barkley’s departure is mildly surprising as he appeared higher up the pecking order than Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who is also expected to go on loan in the coming days, and finished last season strongly.
However, the midfielder was not going to be a regular in Lampard’s team and was keen to play as he seeks to remain in England’s plans ahead of next summer’s European Championship.
“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,” Villa manager Dean Smith said.
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Barkley, 26, had played well in the 6-0 win over Barnsley last Wednesday but was an unused substitute against West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur.
Chelsea are trying to offload a host of midfielder players, with Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater not receiving squad numbers. Loftus-Cheek is in a similar position to Barkley in terms of wanting regular minutes after recovering from a long-term achilles injury.
Anthony Rudiger wants to leave after falling to fifth-choice centre back while goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could depart following the signing of Edouard Mendy.
Lampard has kept his cards close to his chest in terms of departures, refusing to comment on specific players, but Barkley’s departure means he has 34 players still on the books.
The former Everton midfielder joined Chelsea in 2018 and was a regular under Maurizio Sarri. He did not play as regularly in the first half of last season due to injury but finished the campaign strongly.