There is “no point” in Aston Villa signing Ross Barkley permanently unless he can prove to be a regular matchwinner.
That is according to ex-Premier League star Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after Barkley was dropped for Villa’s 1-0 victory over Leeds United on Saturday.
Three days later, Football Insider revealed on Tuesday that Villa and Dean Smith are yet to be convinced that the on-loan midfielder is worth Chelsea’s £35million valuation.
The 27-year-old impressed at the start of his spell at Villa Park but has failed to rediscover that form since returning from a hamstring injury in January.
Barkey is widely regarded as a naturally gifted midfielder but has also faced criticism from fans for a perceived lack of consistency.
Whelan shares these sentiments and insists that Barkley has failed to prove himself capable of stepping up and earning himself a permanent move.
He told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs: “I think the problem and the keyword is ‘consistency.’ That’s what every manager craves.
“A player with that much ability and quality, you expect him to be putting it in week in, week out. He just can’t seem to find that. It must be frustrating for the player, not just the manager.
“Dean Smith has got a great player on his hands but just isn’t able to get that out of him at the moment.
“He’s a match-winner. The things he can do on the ball, that’s why Villa have brought him in there. But he needs to start showing more of it, throughout 90 minutes and week by week.
“Otherwise, there’s no point having him at the club, not for the fee Chelsea want. He just seems to work and thrive off Grealish [currently injured], that’s a problem in itself. I think one of the reasons Dean Smith probably brought him was to provide cover for Grealish.
“But he hasn’t got that trust from the manager, he hasn’t shown enough to show that he can step into Grealish’s shoes when he’s out.”
Aston Villa have been impressive in the league this season and currently sit in 9th place after finishing one point outside the relegation zone last season.
They will move above Tottenham into 8th if they pick up a point or more against bottom-placed Sheffield United tonight.