Aston Villa have completed the shock signing of Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley on a season-long loan deal on Wednesday morning.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard played Barkley 31 times in all competitions last season but, following the signings of £89million Kai Havertz and £38m Hakim Ziyech in midfield this summer, the Blues boss has decided to let Barkley leave the club.
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Barkley, 26, had only featured from the bench twice in the Premier League this season and, seemingly surplus to requirements, he now joins up with manager Dean Smith and assistant John Terry at Villa Park for the remainder of the 2020-21 campaign.
Villa manager Dean Smith said: ‘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.’
Captain Jack Grealish has also responded on social media, with five love heart emojis as his England team-mate joins him at Villa Park.
Barkley’s only start this season came in the 6-0 Carabao Cup third-round victory against Barnsley last week – a match in which he scored in.
The midfielder was left on the bench as the Blues lost to Tottenham on penalties on Tuesday night in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, with a move to the Midlands imminent.
He has fallen behind Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount in the midfield pecking order at Stamford Bridge, along with new signings Havertz and Ziyech.
Barkley’s departure comes amid reports that Chelsea are still in the hunt for West Ham defensive midfielder Declan Rice in this transfer window.
The Blues are confident of signing Rice as they believe that West Ham are desperate for funds, with a bid of more than £40m set to be made.
Meanwhile, English midfielder Barkley has made 86 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions, scoring 11 goals since his £15m transfer to Stamford Bridge from Everton in January 2018.
Barkley burst into the Everton first team aged just 17 after graduating from their academy and he went on to net 27 goals in 179 appearances for the Toffees, before his big move two years ago.
He has 33 England caps and six goals for his country, having made his senior international debut under Roy Hodgson in 2013 – and he was also a member of the squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Barkley joins a Villa side who have won their opening two matches in the Premier League this season, following victories against Sheffield United and Fulham.
Smith’s side next face Stoke City in the EFL Cup fourth round on Thursday night, with Barkley more likely to make his debut on Sunday against Liverpool in the Premier League.