Ross Barkley explains role change and his one wish amid Aston Villa transfer links

Ross Barkley of Luton Town
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Ross Barkley would appear to be set to return to Aston Villa this summer, three years after his loan spell at Villa Park ended. Barkley, 30, spent last season at Luton Town and, despite the club's spirited efforts and Barkley's experience and quality coming to the fore, the Hatters couldn't avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Barkley's journey since his loan spell with Villa - while a Chelsea player - ended in 2021 has been an eclectic one; after leaving Stamford Bridge, having not been deemed to have done enough to earn a permanent deal with Villa, he ventured out to France where he spent a fruitful season with Nice.

Upon his return to England, Barkley was granted an opportunity by Luton to have another crack at the Premier League - and he repaid their faith by turning in a largely excellent individual campaign, despite their collective demise. Barkley led by example, contributed in the final third and there were even calls from some quarters that he should be recalled by Gareth Southgate.

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Indeed, in a recent interview, Barkley has explained how much he has matured as a player as his career has worn on, particularly after his Luton experience where he enjoyed very much working under former Villa defender Rob Edwards and was placed at the centre of their attempts to establish themselves in the top flight.

"I feel like now my standards have maintained consistent levels this season. I'm hoping that I do get a call-up, whether that's in the summer or next season," he told Sky Sports. "It's a goal of mine to get back in the squad. In the position I'm playing now, I feel confident that I can bring something to the squad. So I'm confident, and hopefully a call-up does come."

Barkley has also revealed how, as time has passed, he has settled into positions deeper in the field; at the height of his Everton and Chelsea spells, and indeed during his Villa loan, Barkley operated as a number ten, in behind the centre forward. Nowadays, he considers himself more of a six, where he sees more of the ball and where he feels he has developed.

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Villa possess a host of central midfielders who offer different qualities; Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara, when fit, tend to occupy the deeper roles, while John McGinn is more of a marauder. Youri Tielemans and Jacob Ramsey bring their own unique attributes, too, but for Barkley he considers himself a changed player.

"The way I play now is a lot different from the way I played before in a more attacking role," he explained. "I feel like I'm at my most confident when I'm on the pitch, I believe that I can take the ball in any position.

"Whether we get beaten or I give one ball away, it doesn't affect my game. I feel like now I've got a clear mind. I know I'm playing game after game now, I'm setting good standards for myself. I feel like now as a player, I've hit different levels through maturing over the years."

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