By Alex McLeish

22nd Oct, 2020 | 6:00pm

McLeish Exclusive: Villa 25-yr-old has been transformed by 'Fantastic signing'

Alex McLeish claims that Ross Barkley has had a major influence on Jack Grealish since joining Aston Villa from Chelsea.

The former Villa and Scotland boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, claims the boyhood Villan “looks a different player” playing alongside the Blues loanee.

Barkley, 26, has made an immediate impact since joining Dean Smith’s men with two goals in his opening two appearances.

However, McLeish believes the 33-cap England star is also having a massive impact on his teammates, most notably Villa captain Grealish.

McLeish told Football Insider: “I felt he was a fantastic signing and he’ll probably now feel thoroughly wanted that he’s going to probably play every week.

“You see already the influence and the impression he’s made on his teammates like Jack Grealish – already these guys look as though they’ve been mates for years and grown up since school days, such is the excitement of playing with each other.

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“Grealish has kind of been in the 4-3-3 coming in from the left – everybody last season was talking about Grealish and where’s his best position, is it number 10, is it out wide, is it in midfield or as a number eight? 

“He actually looks a different player out there and it’s given Villa a different dimension.” 

Grealish, 25, has scored three times and chipped in with a further three assists in his four Premier League appearances this season.

He struck a total of eight goals and set up his teammates six times in 36 top-flight games last term.

In other Aston Villa news, McLeish claims Smith has had “absolute nightmare” over big-name axe.