Aston Villa manager Dean Smith may have dropped a big hint on Ross Barkley’s future at the club, according to Kevin Campbell.

The former Arsenal and Everton striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 27-year-old’s omission from the starting XI at Leeds suggests that he will be returning to Chelsea at the end of the season.

Barkley was an unused substitute on Saturday, as the Claret and Blues bounced back to winning ways at Elland Road.

The attacking midfielder, who moved to Villa Park on loan from Chelsea last summer, started eight consecutive Premier League fixtures prior to the 1-0 victory.

Football Insider understands the current state of play is that Villa are undecided on whether to pursue Barkley’s services on a permanent basis, with Chelsea demanding £35million.

When asked if the price tag was likely to put off Villa, Campbell told Football Insider:

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“Barkley has had some good games, some bad games and some indifferent games. It is a bit like how he has been at Chelsea.

“Will Villa pay £35million for him? I am not so sure about that.

“I think that is why he was dropped for the game against Leeds. Dean Smith is looking at the players he has already got and they got a result with Barkley on Saturday.

“This is the dilemma of a loan player. Unless you go into a club and rip it up every week, the manager has always got the opportunity to turn to his permanent players.” 

In other news, Agbonlahor has tipped Dean Smith to U-turn on Guilbert transfer decision after Aston Villa sighting.