Aston Villa aren’t short of creative midfielders with Jacob Ramsey, Philippe Coutinho and Emiliano Buendia, but they are lacking some cover in case of injury.

Steven Gerrard would have to call upon his wingers in a makeshift or change in formation if he loses his players, so Villa could do with signing another this summer.

According to Samuel Draper and Simon Jones for Mail Online, the Midlands outfit are interested in Ross Barkley and may battle Everton to procure his signature this summer.

The 28-year-old is out of favour at Chelsea and will be out of contract in 2023, so the Blues need to cash in now rather than risk losing him for nothing next year.

On the face of it, Barkley would be an ideal signing for Villa as he’s been at the club before and could be one of Gerrard’s central playmakers with holding midfielders as protection, but his form over the last few years is worrying.

The England international has scored just 12 goals with 11 assists from 99 games for Chelsea since leaving Everton in 2018 – that’s 1 goal or assist every 4.3 games on average.

Barkley’s inability to nail down a regular starting place at Chelsea led to him being loaned out to Villa in 2020/21, but he scored just three goals with one assist from 24 games, struggling for form after a bright start.

Barkley used to be a player who could score and create a lot of goals (48 games, 12 goals, 11 assists in 2015/16 for Everton), but he hasn’t netted more than three league goals in a season since joining Chelsea and hasn’t managed more than five assists.

Gerrard might be better off avoiding.

In other news, Aston Villa axe could see Frederic Guilbert loaned back to France