Ross Barkley has signed for Aston Villa on a season-long loan deal as Chelsea continue to trim their squad following their summer spending spree.
The 26-year-old has been a valuable squad player for the Blues since his arrival from Everton in January 2018.
He made more than 20 Premier League appearances under Frank Lampard last season, 13 of them as a starter. However, fierce midfield competition, particularly after Kai Havertz’s arrival, has seen Barkley agree to spend the rest of the season at Villa Park.
Villa boss Dean Smith summed it up as he told the club’s official website: “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.”
Lampard is now left with Havertz, Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Billy Gilmour as midfield options, with the latter still recovering from a knee injury and expected to be out for at least a few months.
The recent shift to 4-2-3-1 means a number eight such as Barkley might struggle to find a regular spot in the team, despite his brilliant display in the double-pivot in the 6-0 win over Barnsley on 23 September.
Kante, Kovacic, and Jorginho would likely be the preferred options for the two-man midfield, while the number 10 role would suit Havertz, Loftus-Cheek and even Mount.
His personal ambition to make the England squad for next year’s Euros might also have played a big part in Barkley’s decision to seek more game time.