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Ross Barkley Signs: A Statement of Intent?

It is the opening game of the 2011/12 season and a fresh faced, 17-year-old Ross Barkley lines up for Everton against QPR. Most of the people watching the game wouldn’t have had a clue who he was. In fact, it looked as though Everton had just nipped up to the local college and asked the PE teacher for the best player. I am surprised a chant of “who are ya” did not echo around the ground from the QPR fans. Yet, Barkley was not fazed, taking everything QPR threw at him in his stride and was named man of the match by Radio City Sport.

That game turned Barkley into a superstar, almost overnight as he was dubbed “the next Wayne Rooney” by many. It all came too soon for Barkley. The pressure too high. He failed to live up to those lofty expectations.

His time at Everton came to a sour end. Shipped off to Chelsea in a cut price, 15-million-pound deal. What went wrong Ross? He should have become an Everton legend, but football is not played on paper. Not every story has a happy ending. Barkley knows that all too well.

Then came the Chelsea move. A fresh start. A chance to add a few trophies to his CV. He did that, winning both an FA cup and a Europa league since joining the Londoners. However, game time did not come easy for him. It was a huge challenge to break into a stacked midfield, competing against N’golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho and many more for a place in the Chelsea side. Barkley was not able to get the chances he craved despite performing well when he was given an opportunity.

Now at Villa, he has the chance to prove to his doubters why he was so highly rated as a teenager.

How does he fit into this Villa side?

Well he said himself, “I want to play number 8”.

This would mean taking the spot of Irish Midfielder, Conor Hourihane, who has been a vital part of the Villa side for the last 3 seasons, coming up with crucial goals and assists in important games. I for one, will never forget Conor’s goal against West Brom in the play-off semi-final. Without that goal, West Brom would have won the tie, in my opinion.

However, there is no room for nostalgia in the premier league and, as harsh as it may sound, Barkley is just simply a better footballer than Hourihane. He has excellent footballing ability and adds the tenacity to the midfielder that, Hourihane lacks.

Are there stats to back this up? Well yes. These are some key stats for Ross Barkley in the Premier Leauge last season:

Despite starting just 26 of a possible 78 Premier League matches since the start of the 2018/19 season, only one current Chelsea player, Cesar Azplicueta has registered more assists in that time than Ross Barkley, with 9

31 Appearances

5 Goals

5 Assists

89% Pass Accuracy (49 Passes P/G)

2.5 Shots P/G

4.6 Dribbles per 90

37 Chances Created

2+ Touches in Opposition Box per 90

8 Duels Won P/G

For me, this is why Ross Barkley is such a statement signing for Villa. He adds a much-needed bite to the midfield, as well as having the quality needed to succeed in a Villa shirt.

Article by: Jake Alberice

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