Ross Barkley

The Ross Renaissance: How one-time wonderkid Barkley is thriving again at Luton Town

Against all odds, Luton have exceeded expectations in their debut Premier League season.

They have outperformed fellow promoted teams Sheffield United and Burnley, despite their modest transfer expenditure and the unexpected loss of captain Tom Lockyer.

The surprise acquisition of Ross Barkley from Ligue 1 side OGC Nice has been central to their success.

Barkley's career had been in decline since his departure from Everton in 2018. But everyone loves a good comeback story, and his resurgence this season has been remarkable to witness.

The 30-year-old now ranks first for accurate passes and ball recoveries per 90, second for chances created and successful dribbles per 90, and third for goals and assists in the Luton squad this season.

The former Chelsea man has formed a formidable midfield partnership with Albert Sambi Lokonga and led the club to within touching distance of safety.

Ross Barkley Transfer Value - how much is he worth now?

According to our Player Valuation Model, Barkley has an Estimated Transfer Value (ETV) of €2.1 million.

Ross Barkley Transfer Value

His recent performances highlight an undervalued player that can still make the difference at the highest level.

Reports linking Barkley with a move to Manchester United might seem underwhelming for United fans, but he is exactly the kind of bargain signing which would allow funds to be invested in more pressing areas of Erik ten Hag’s squad.

The stats: the deeper role is suiting Barkley

Barkley rose to prominence as an attacking player at Everton and Chelsea, where he predominantly operated in advanced areas of the pitch.

However, manager Rob Edwards has deployed him in a deeper midfield role this season, a position in which he has flourished.

This strategic shift is reflected in the data, with Barkley now recording more touches in the defensive and middle thirds, while his 18 touches per 90 in the attacking third and penalty area are lower than in any of his previous seasons.

Ross Barkley's heat map

As a consequence of that, his expected goals (xG) figure has decreased, resulting in fewer goals scored.

But this compromise is proving worthwhile.

Most of the lower-table teams tend to struggle with any meaningful build-up play, and they tend to concede possession fairly quickly especially against top-half teams. But Barkley’s technical ability in deeper areas is helping Luton assert control over games and drive them up the field.

The Luton number 6 was pivotal in the win against Newcastle, draws against Liverpool and closely-fought losses against Arsenal and Manchester City.

The Hatters don’t just hoof the ball long and hope for the best, especially with Barkley serving as an outlet to receive the ball under pressure.

Having more time and space to demonstrate his vision, Barkley is averaging 2.02 key passes, 5.94 progressive passes, and 0.84 switches per 90 minutes - all of which position him among the top players in his position in the English top flight.

Ross Barkley's chances created

The one-time England international has also been showcasing a purpose and drive with his ball carrying that is reminiscent of his breakthrough years at Everton.

With over 4.0 take-ons per 90 at a success rate of 66.7%, he ranks not just amongst the best midfielders in the Premier League, but also in the top 5 European leagues.

Barkley is also willing to run and put in the type of defensive shift which is essential when you play for a team fighting against relegation.

His 2.92 tackles and interceptions and 2.25 clearances per 90 are more than he has made in any of his last five seasons.

Ross Barkley's tackles

This change seems to be something that Edwards has influenced, and the manager had this to say about it.

“What he’s shown this season is another side to his game. He’s tracking runners, winning the ball back. He’s showing even more responsibility than he would have done in previous years and he’s affecting us going forward and with the ball as well.”

Barkley’s continued impact on his team across the pitch might leave the door open to play at the top end of the Premier League once again, and also give him a chance of earning his first England cap since October 2019.

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