In what has been a rather disappointing end to the Premier League season, Aston Villa played out a goalless draw against Everton on Thursday evening.
Dean Smith’s side were very much in contention for a European place for next season, but Jack Grealish’s untimely injury has proven to be a major stumbling block; and while the England international made his return yesterday, he couldn’t inspire a late winner.
The Villa manager has some big decisions to make over the summer, and over these final couple of games – not least keeping Ross Barkley away from the starting line-up.
Should Barkley never play again for Aston Villa?
The Chelsea loanee has endured a difficult campaign at Villa Park after a promising start, failing to score in the top flight since the end of January when he netted against Southampton in a 1-0 win.
Against his former club on Thursday, Barkley was nowhere to be seen once again. As per Sofascore, he finished the game with a 6.5 match rating, the lowest of any Villa player on the pitch, and only just higher than Everton’s Allan (6.4).
He had no shots on goal, failed to complete either of his two attempted dribbles and failed to provide an accurate cross. All in all, he lost possession on 13 separate occasions, the joint-most of any Villa player alongside Bertrand Traore, while he lost 100% of his duels on the night – an incredibly lightweight performance from someone who has been well off the pace. (Sofascore)
In his post-match player ratings for the Birmingham Mail, Ashley Preece gave him a score of 5.5, writing: “Started with a spring in his step on what was his final appearance at Villa Park knowing he cannot play against parent club Chelsea on the final game of the season.
“Barkley looked confident but, when Villa needed some magic, he failed to produce and was far too deep at times as Davis looked for someone to play with. It was another underwhelming performance from Barkley which have been all too commonplace this season.”
Make no mistake about it, Villa must not contemplate signing the £18m-rated midfielder on a permanent deal this summer and must let him head back to Stamford Bridge.
Even before then, Smith must make the ruthless call and drop him from the team, instead giving those vital first-team minutes to the likes of Jacob Ramsey and perhaps even Carney Chukwuemeka, who are both waiting in the wings for an opportunity to impress.