Aston Villa boss Dean Smith appears to have ruled out a permanent move for Ross Barkley from Chelsea this summer as his struggles on the pitch continue.
The 27-year-old loanee enjoyed a positive start to his spell at Villa Park, scoring two goals in his first two league appearances for the club.
However, he suffered a hamstring injury in late November which forced him to miss seven Premier League games, and he has managed just one more goal in 14 outings since, with no assists to his name either.
Naturally, that form has resulted in Smith dropping him to the bench, and so question marks have been raised over his future at Villa as there hasn’t much in recent months to suggest that he warrants a permanent switch to the club.
Following the defeat to Man City in midweek, a game in which Barkley came off the bench in and was once again largely ineffective, Smith commented on the England international’s future.
“No, Ross Barkley came in on loan at the start of the season.
“Obviously, Frank Lampard was the manager at the time we brokered a deal to bring him in on loan. He’s got another two years left on his contract at Chelsea and that’s not been discussed at all,” Smith said, as quoted by The Mirror.
That doesn’t sound positive at all from a perspective of Barkley staying at Villa beyond this season, but it remains to be seen if the situation changes with his form in the final seven games of the Premier League campaign.
For now though, it doesn’t seem as though it would be a smart move to keep him, and if he does head back to Stamford Bridge, Villa will need to look elsewhere to address that area of the squad as more quality is needed in the final third.
Guardiola non-committal on Douglas Luiz return
Meanwhile, Man City boss Pep Guardiola commented on Douglas Luiz’s future after their win over Villa on Wednesday night, with the title-chasers holding a buy-back clause for the Brazilian.
“He’s a guy who’s played a lot of minutes, he’s an important player for Aston Villa. A guy who’s clever with the ball, he’s so physical and strong. He’s a lovely guy, I’m happy he’s developing really, really well,” he said, as per the Manchester Evening News.
“I have many things in my head ahead of the next five or six weeks. We’ve fought a lot to be here, we have the final, we have the Premier League and we have the Champions League for the second time in our lives at this club.
“I don’t want to be distracted. There are a lot of people at the club working about these types of players and then, at the end of the season, we will make a decision.”
The report notes that City can re-sign Luiz for £27.5m, but their option expires in June. In turn, time will tell what decision is reached and whether or not the midfield ace will still be at Villa next season.
Luiz, 22, has made 70 appearances for Villa, and although he hasn’t been at his best this season, he has cemented his place in Smith’s starting XI as a pivotal figure in our midfield.