Luton Town have announced the signing of ex Chelsea, Everton and Nice midfielder Ross Barkley on a free transfer. Whilst everyone assumed that the heavily rumoured signing of Jacob Brown was being announced, the Hatters revealed the addition of Barkley to a shocked fanbase.
The 29-year-old has over 200 Premier League appearances and a respectable 33 England caps, as well as FA Cup, Europa League and Club World Cup medals. He has international tournament experience as well, featuring in Roy Hodgson's 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championship squads. Bringing some much needed Premier League experience to Kenilworth Road, the Liverpool-born midfielder is available for the Hatters' fixture against Brighton this weekend.
Tipped as one of England’s brightest young talents whilst at Everton, Barkley hasn’t quite lived up to the hype in the last couple of seasons, but will hope to get back to his best under Rob Edwards.
Can Ross Barkley kick on at Luton Town?
If Barkley can recapture the type of form that earned him a £15 million move to Chelsea in 2018, then he will be vital in the Hatters' survival bid this season. He clearly possesses bags of technical ability, as well as an impressive knack for scoring goals from midfield.
Over the past few seasons, Barkley hasn’t had anywhere near the amount of football needed to build any sort of momentum, falling down the pecking order at Chelsea before a move to Ligue 1 last season. The England international could thrive on the opportunity of being the star man for Rob Edwards' side, much like he was in his early days at Everton.
In terms of style of play, Barkley is a progressive attacking midfielder, often utilised as a number 10 but can operate from further back. Despite not being at his absolute best last season, Barkley still registered some extremely impressive numbers for Nice in Ligue 1. The England international was in the top 1% of Ligue 1 midfielders for shots per 90, as well as the top 2% for shot-creating actions per 90.
Data: Opta > FBRef.com | Visual: FBCharts extension
Clearly someone who is not afraid to get a shot off, Barkley also has the ability to carry the ball and drive at an opposition's defence. He was in the top 11% of Ligue 1 midfielders in terms of progressive carries per 90 last campaign, as well as registering 4 goals and 2 assists in his 28 appearances.
The one concern about this move is the slight unknown about the personality of Barkley. Will he come to Kenilworth Road with an ego, perhaps a sense that he is better than a Premier League relegation scrap? The midfielder has been labelled as lazy at some points in his career, apparently wasting his clear technical ability. However, Luton Town have a way of getting the best out of most players, as well as a thorough recruitment team that will have combed through the character of every signing. The club would not have signed Barkley unless they were sure that he had the correct mindset, so Hatters fans have nothing to worry about in this sense.
Despite some clever business throughout the window, this is the first big statement signing from the Hatters. Barkley has that something special, the ability to win you a game out of nothing, something that is invaluable for a side fighting relegation. He may take a couple of weeks to get up to speed, but you get the feeling that Ross Barkley is going to be a star for Luton Town.