Back in the transfer window, Newcastle were linked with a move for Ross Barkley. The Telegraph reported on deadline day (12:45pm) that Steve Bruce was interested in the England international, but lost out to Aston Villa as he failed to remove fringe players from the wage bill in time.
Ultimately, these fringe players such as Henri Saivet and Rolando Aarons remained at St James’ Park, and Aston Villa are reaping the benefits of having Barkley in their side.
It may be early days in the Premier League season, but the former Everton man is proving to be everything Bruce needs right now.
According to WhoScored, Barkley has registered 3.7 shots per game in the Premier League this term, which is very impressive – even more so coming from a midfielder.
Significantly, the closest Newcastle player to that tally is Callum Wilson. WhoScored shows that the Magpies striker averages two shots per game in the league, which tells you everything you need to know about how timid this Newcastle side is.
Additionally, Barkley averages two dribbles per game, and has already scored two goals in three starts for the Villans.
Bruce doesn’t have a midfielder like him at St James’ Park right now. Currently, his most creative midfielder is Jonjo Shelvey, who averages 2.1 fewer shots per game than the Aston Villa No.20.
Barkley also gives any side he plays for a drive from midfield. Since his Everton days, he has been known for carrying the ball upfield and testing opposition defences, something that this static Magpies squad severely lack.
It’s upsetting to think that the 26-year-old could currently be a Newcastle player if Bruce had managed to sell some of his fringe players, and we presume the ex-Sunderland boss is kicking himself for failing to do so.