Hatters boss hopes to see Barkley in pre-season but Luton midfielder is heavily linked with Aston Villa switch

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England international rumoured to be heading to his former club

Luton midfielder Ross Barkley is being heavily linked with a move to top four side Aston Villa following his wonderful campaign at Kenilworth Road, even though manager Rob Edwards was still expecting to see him report at the Brache for pre-season training.

The 30-year-old has been quite simply sensational for the Hatters this term, going on to win four awards at the club’s presentation evenings held recently. Signing on a free transfer in the summer after leaving Ligue One side Nice, he went on to score five goals and contribute four assists, but his influence wasn’t based on purely stats, his moments of sheer genius on the ball, particularly at Kenilworth Road, enough to produce his very own highlights showreel that was lapped up by Town fans.

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Barkley, who came through at boyhood club Everton, was signed by Chelsea in January 2018 for £10m, spending a loan spell at Villa Park during the 2020-21 campaign where he featured 24 times, scoring three goals. He got a decent reception from Villa fans when Luton lost 3-1 in Birmingham earlier in the season, but with Town dropping down the Championship, most Hatters fans have all but accepted he will be leaving the club this summer.

Ross Barkley applauds the Luton Town fans at Kenilworth Road - pic: Liam SmithRoss Barkley applauds the Luton Town fans at Kenilworth Road - pic: Liam Smith
Ross Barkley applauds the Luton Town fans at Kenilworth Road - pic: Liam Smith

With Villa having finished fourth and playing Champions League football next term, boss Unai Emery is looking to bolster his squad for the season ahead, rumours today are linking the England international as becoming one of his first new additions. Barkley, who played 37 times for Luton this term, missed out on a final appearance yesterday when a calf injury ruled him out of playing in the 4-2 defeat to Fulham.

He received a superb ovation from the Town fans after the game, signing autographs for supporters in the Kenny End, and when asked if he had discussed the England international’s future, and just how is revered by the Luton supporters, Edwards said: “I’ve already done that, we’ve already chatted. I’ve got round everybody, I got through a lot of chats this week and spoken to him. It was great (his reception), the fans showed their love and appreciation for Ross and a lot of the lads out there, which is nice to see.

"He’s adored by everybody, he’s had a brilliant season, and we will see what happens, but he’s contracted to the club and I’m expecting to see him day one of pre-season. We know he’s got the quality and there may well be interest but we’ll have to see. I think he’s loved his time as well here and he’s really appreciated what we’ve been able to give him as well, so I think that’s worked well both ways.”

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Town fans were desperate to see him stay, singing his song to the tune of Rufus and Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain't Nobody’ during the defeat, with chants of ‘Ross Barkley, we want you to stay,’ also heard in the closing stages. On social media, asked by the Luton News Twitter account how much they wanted him to remain in Bedfordshire, @LutonEye·said: “I’d love him to stay. But then I’d have loved Rachel Stevens from S Club 7 as my girlfriend back in the day. Like back then, it is important to remain realistic. @SSE_LTFC: “If we retained Barkley, it's as good as multiple signings at that level.”

@hatterneil: “He's not staying. He'll get lumps kicked out of him by footballers who are miles behind him in ability in the Championship and who'd want that at 30 years old?” @Neilcp71: “It would be wonderful if he stayed. If he leaves then thank you for your time at LTFC. He’s been a privilege to watch.” @HungryHatter: “I'd be so, so pleased if he stays. He's been utterly brilliant for us and I'd like to think we've been good for him too. It's not that often that players become so adored by the fans after just one season, but he's done it.”

@Richbow79: “He’s done a lot in his career, but has he ever been promoted?” @LTFCShirts: “Easily best player in the league if Leeds go up. Guaranteed 40 plus games plus being the main man. Only downside is Championship football however would he want to sit on the bench elsewhere for triple money?” @tweetertucker: “I think of another Luton player in this scenario. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. Made an impact for Leicester in their relegation season but the team didn’t quite have it, he stuck it out in the championship. 12 goals 14 assists & a title a year later and they look great for next season.”

@FramersRetro: “Top top quality. Humble lad. He suits us and we have created an environment thats hard to leave.. we'll see, but I'm hopeful that I'll have the name on the back of next seasons shirt...2 @richyhardy: “Best player I’ve seen for us and would be almost like cheating with him in the championship. Honestly believe if he were to stay we’d be an established premier league club in 3 years.”

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@diver993: “The guy is invaluable, not only for his performance on the pitch but also his influence on the other players.” @Daveachino: “Oozes class. Been a leader all season and has bought into the Luton way. Would love to see him stay and become a fully fledged Luton legend.” @Bungle74: “Without doubt the most skillful player I’ve ever seen in a Luton shirt. Would love him to stay, keep the rest of the team together & get back to winning ways in the Championship.”

@dublinhatter: “It’s been a pure pleasure to have him here even if it’s to be just the one season. It would make my summer if he hangs around but I won’t hold it against him either.” @AdamDriscoll92: “I think he goes. Far too good for the Championship and could fetch us a good fee, as well as doubling his wages.” @GrazVegas80: “He'd be the only thing I'd miss from the Premier League if we couldn't keep him. Young Me loved watching Roy Wegerle for us, as the ball looked glued to his feet. Barkley gives Old Me that same joy watching him, what football should really be about, just pure class and enjoyment.”

@DMCLTN: “He would be a cat amongst pigeons in the championship. My head says he will go, my heart says he stays. He’s not going to be the main man anywhere else in the prem (bar maybe the bottom 5/6) and at Luton he has that title.” @DonnyLebowski: “He’s been amazing this year. A pleasure to watch. However Luton fans all need to give their collective heads a wobble. He’s way too good for Plymouth away next season - he’ll leave.”

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