It appeared that Aston Villa were handed their first boost ahead of the summer transfer window back in December when Birmingham Live claimed that Ross Barkley was believed to be keen to make his loan deal permanent.
Barkley was on the sidelines at the time due to injury. But the report looked to be fantastic news for Villa. At that stage, he had scored twice and contributed one assist in six appearances for the Villans.
That run included a dramatic late winner in the game at Leicester. It appeared that the loan spell was going to inspire the 27-year-old to rediscover his best form.
90min subsequently reported earlier this month that Villa were indeed planning to make a bid for the England international this summer. However, it was claimed that Chelsea wanted a fee of £40 million for Barkley.
Had Barkley picked up where he left upon his return from injury, spending £40 million may have seemed like a no-brainer for Dean Smith’s men.
However, his form in more recent times has been much more underwhelming. Since that strike at Leicester, he has scored once in 12 appearances. He has not added to his tally of assists since his return from injury.
In fact, arguably the most notable incidents involving Barkley more recently have centred around a couple of his reactions when he has been substituted.
Barkley has proved that he is a potential game-changer. If he finds his form once again, Villa may have no hesitation about making a permanent bid in the summer.
But if his current rut continues much longer, the Villans are surely going to question whether they can get better value elsewhere.