Why Sheffield United should consider Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley is now searching for a new club after OGC Nice decided against offering the former Chelsea midfielder a new contract. 

The 29-year-old had a steady spell in France, scoring four goals and registering two assists in 28 games last season. So far, the 33-cap England midfielder has no suitors, this is likely because he still commands a relatively big wage. 

The Liverpool-born midfielder was released by Chelsea in August 2022 after playing a century of matches for the Londoners since signing for them in January 2018. He would go on to lift the FA Cup in 2017/18. And he also tasted European success when he lifted the UEFA Europa League trophy in his first season with the club.

Nice’s English midfielder Ross Barkley (L) celebrates after scoring his team’s fifth goal during the French L1 football match between OGC Nice and Montpellier Herault SC at the Allianz Riviera Stadium in Nice, south-eastern France, on January 11, 2023. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP) (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

Barkley’s history with the “other lot”

Barkley made his first-team debut for Everton in August 2011 at the age of 17. His rapid development was helped by loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday, and Leeds United.

Blessed with a powerful shot and excellent dribbling ability, Barkley showcased his world class potential during his loan spell with Wednesday in 2011/12. The midfielder would total four goals in 12 games for the Owls. 

Should United sign Ross Barkley?

Since leaving Chelsea, the midfielder is no longer reaching the heights he was once performing at. Or is he?

Barkley has always been recognised for his powerful and skillful dribbling ability, to add to his excellent vision. And according to FBref he is still very much a threat.

In the past year, when comparing Barkley’s attacking statistics to other midfielders across Europe he is actually registering some great numbers. 

Based on 960 minutes played, the former English international is in the top 1% in three different stats for midfielders. He has averaged 3.56 total shots per game (top 1%), he has registered 0.4 non-penalty expected goals per game (top 1%) and his actual non penalty goals is 0.38 per game (top 1%). 

To add, Barkley has registered an impressive 2.81 progressive carries per game, thus showing that he is still capable of driving a team forward and breaking the press of the opposition. He ranks in the 90th percentile in this metric across Europe.

Also, the midfielder is still averaging a fairly good successful take-on rate at 1.13 per game. And he is still busy in the final third having received a high number of progressive passes per game (4.31). 

One of Barkley’s traits at Chelsea and Everton was to arrive in the box for crosses or short through balls down the side of the defence. This is still a prominent part of his game as he demonstrated with Nice, he registered 2.44 touches per game in the opposition’s penalty area.

Final verdict 

The numbers that Barkley is still producing are quite impressive, and it makes you wonder why there isn’t a huge amount of interest in him. At least in the press. But then again, his wage is presumably still a significant amount, which might be off-putting. 

Due to the fact that he is a free agent, I would hope United consider signing the 29-year-old to a one-year deal with an option of an extra year. Having even more international experience in the squad would be huge, and it’s things like that which help teams in difficult spells during the season. 


Tags Analysis Chelsea Free Agent OGC Nice Opinion Ross Barkley Sheffield United