Leeds United told ‘sour’ spell could give Villa edge in Chelsea transfer race

Leeds United have been told the spectre of Neil Warnock’s time in charge could give Aston Villa the edge in the race to sign a Chelsea star in January.

Warnock recently broke the record for the highest number of games managed at professional level in English football. He set the new benchmark of 1,602 matches in charge in his final act as Middlesbrough boss before leaving by mutual consent on November 6.

Warnock previously managed Leeds United in 2012-13, and it is his time at Elland Road that concerns today’s news.

While at the helm, the then-promising Everton midfielder Ross Barkley was loaned to the club. But despite boundless potential, Barkley was given just four matches to impress in a largely forgettable spell in West Yorkshire.

In the present day, Leeds have been heavily linked with bringing Barkley on board for a second time.

Indeed, a TEAMtalk exclusive revealed several clubs including Leeds were on alert after Chelsea began to consider loaning Barkley out in January. If he was, an option to buy would likely be included with Barkley due to become a free agent in the summer of 2023.

Barkley has featured more regularly under Thomas Tuchel of late. He has appeared in each of their last three league matches. However, the likes of N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho make becoming a regular starter near-impossible.

Furthermore the wildly impressive Conor Gallagher will be in the mix next season and his stellar form at Crystal Palace suggests he’ll jump ahead of Barkley in the pecking order.

As such, Barkley could soon move on, but pundit Danny Mills reckons his previous miserable spell on loan may have “soured” his opinion of the Whites. Instead, he believes fellow suitor Aston Villa are a better bet.

“He’s been here before and it didn’t quite work out for him under Neil Warnock,” Mills told Football Insider. “That may have soured it a little bit.

“The problem that you may have is, Villa with Steven Gerrard and Norwich with potential Frank Lampard will have a strong pull for these types of players.

“That’s what might be difficult, to get a player of that ilk in January.”

Lampard has been ruled out of the race to…

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