Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has revealed that the club have not spoken to Chelsea about a permanent deal for Ross Barkley, which almost certainly means the move will not happen.
The England international made a brilliant start to his temporary Villa stay, after sealing a season-long loan in September. However, injury and a loss of form has seen the 27-year-old struggle for game time in the second half of the campaign.
Barkley missed seven games with a hamstring injury. He has now fallen behind 19-year-old Jacob Ramsey and January signing Morgan Sanson in the pecking order. Marvelous Nakamba has also been given opportunities in recent weeks ahead of the Chelsea man.
The former Everton star has started and finished just one match since the turn of the year. He has largely been limited to late second-half cameos for the last two months.
Chelsea have changed manager since Barkley was packed off to Villa Park, with Thomas Tuchel replacing the sacked Frank Lampard.
But Smith has confirmed there have been no discussions with Barkley’s parent club about the player’s future.
Asked after Wednesday’s loss to Manchester City whether any negotiations have taken place, Smith said: “No, Ross Barkley came in on loan at the start of the season.
“Obviously, Frank was the manager at the time we did a deal to bring him in on loan. That’s where it was. He’s got another two years left on his contract at Chelsea and that’s not been discussed at all.”
Those comments appear to have ruled out a permanent Barkley deal, with Villa likely to look at alternative targets over the summer.
Villa in hunt for Fenerbahce defender
Aston Villa and Newcastle United have reportedly joined a host of clubs keen to sign Fenerbahce defender Attila Szalai this summer.
The 23-year-old has been earning rave reviews for his displays at the heart of the Yellow Canaries rearguard. The rangy centre-half joined the Turkish outfit in January this year and has started 15 Sup Lig games. Fener forked out £1.8m for his services and it appears to be money well spent.
He has helped Emre Belozoglu’s side to second in the Turkish top-flight standings. They are just three points adrift of table-topping Besiktas.
Szalai’s performances have seen him linked with many clubs in recent months. Premier League high-flyers Leicester City are said to hold an interest along with Italian duo Napoli and Lazio.
And, according to Blikk (via Sport Witness), Villa and the Magpies have now entered the race for a summer swoop. Capped 11 times by Hungary, the youngster appears to have the footballing world at his feet.
The one stumbling block might be his price tag. Should he be sold this summer, Fenerbahce are looking to make a tidy profit.
Having spent less then £2m in the winter window, they are reportedly set to demand €25m this summer. While that would be affordable to most clubs mentioned under normal circumstances, finances are tight.