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Aston Villa in advanced talks over midfielder deal

Villa are in talks to make Ross Barkley their first signing of the summer.

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The 30-year-old midfielder is currently at Luton and available for a relatively low fee following the Hatters relegation from the Premier League.

Villa are eager to strengthen the depth of their squad ahead of next season’s entry to the Champions League but will initially be restricted by the need to comply with profit and sustainability (PSR) rules, with the signing of Barkley viewed as a shrewd early move.

The England international joined Luton on a free transfer after leaving Nice last summer and enjoyed an impressive season back in the Premier League despite the team’s 18th-placed finish, scoring five goals and setting up four more in 32 appearances. He has also been linked with Manchester United.

Barkley already is well-known to Villa supporters, having made 24 appearances for the club during the 2020-21 while on loan from Chelsea.

He scored three goals in that spell, the first of them on debut in the famous 7-2 win over Liverpool but after a strong start struggled with injury and inconsistent form.

Villa boss Unai Emery has warned the club must be “intelligent” in the transfer market due to the position with PSR.

The club made a loss of nearly £120million in the 2022-23 season and another large deficit is expected for the current campaign, with the expectation they will have to sell at least one big-name player to boost the budget.

Academy product Jacob Ramsey has been touted among those players who could be sold but it is understood Villa would ideally like to keep the 22-year-old and instead raise funds from other sales.

Speaking last week about plans for the summer, Emery said: “Financially, being in the Champions League is better than not. Our budget could be better.

“But we have to manage at the beginning the fair play for this season. Then we can build.

“I think we can be intelligent and build a strong team to compete in the Champions League, the Premier League and the cups.”

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