Ross Barkley could end up being the signing of the season, according to former Aston Villa hitman Kevin Phillips.
The England midfielder is currently on a season-long loan at Villa from Premier League title hopefuls Chelsea.
Barkley has found a new lease of life at Villa Park and, in recent weeks, has shown shades of the player that rose to prominence at Everton.
The 26-year-old has played an integral role in Villa's stellar start to the season, scoring three goals and providing one assist in all competitions.
Barkley's contribution to Dean Smith's side, however, has been far more than his goals and assists.
Phillips has been thoroughly impressed by what he's seen of Barkley during his brief stint in Birmingham and believes the permanent acquisition of his services would be a huge coup for the Villans.
“I would have taken Ross Barkley all day long,” Phill toldFootball Insider . “He just needed to play football and go somewhere where there is less pressure than Chelsea.
"Yes, he is now a big fish at Villa but he is a fantastic player.
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“To have him and Grealish both on fire in your team, two of the most creative players in the Premier League, is massive.
“Ross Barkley could potentially turn out to be the signing of the season.
"If Villa can persuade him to join them come the end of the season, it would be a massive step in the right direction.”
The harmony amongst his new team-mates has played a large part in Barkley enjoying his football again.
“I’ve had a lot of one-on-one meetings with the manager, talking about how we can improve, what we lacked last season and what he learned from last season," he said.
“I’ve been through difficult spells with Everton previously where we were struggling and then something just changed.
"The manager explained to me that something clicked here towards the end of last season and I’ve seen that.
“There is a lot more understanding of how to win games in this league. We now have players who are established and we look really solid. Everyone is working really hard for each other."
Barkley and his Villa team-mates will be back in action on Saturday, welcoming Premier League strugglers Brighton to Villa Park.
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