Aston Villa enjoyed a wonderful summer in the transfer market.
After avoiding relegation on the last day of the season it was essential that Dean Smith's side strengthened to ensure that they didn't have to endure a similar campaign this time around.
Based on results it looks like they'll be fine.
Deals to sign Matty Cash, Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Martinez and Bertrand Traore really took the team to another level.
But it was the signing of Ross Barkley which really made people stand up and listen.
The loan signing from Chelsea was a real signal of intent, and according to Alan Hutton, Smith deserves huge credit for convincing Barkley that Villa Park was the best place for him to kickstart his career.
Speaking to Football Insider, Hutton said: “I think there’s no one better to give him the confidence that he needs than Dean Smith. He’ll have him round, saying: ‘Come here, you’ll play week in, week out, do your thing on the pitch and express yourself.’
“That’s what a player like that needs, a forward-thinking player, he’s not scared to give the ball away or try things, he’s not going to get shouted at, he’s just been told to go and play and enjoy your football.
“We can see that already after a couple of games. We can see the impact and effect that he’s got, even on others round about him, he’s bringing the best out of others as well.
“We all know he’s a great talent, he came through at Everton and moved to Chelsea – that doesn’t happen to an average player, he’s a very good player.
“I think Dean Smith’s just given him that freedom and he’s lapping it up at the moment, he’s been absolutely fantastic.”
GIVEMESPORT'S Phil Spencer says...
Ross Barkley was an incredible signing.
A player of undoubted quality, it just seemed that the midfielder had lost his way a little bit at Chelsea.
Barkley is a special talent but he seems to thrive when he's empowered and made to feel like the main man.
That's certainly happening with Aston Villa.
Alongside Jack Grealish the former Everton man is absolutely on fire at the moment and the hope is that he can continue that over the course of the season.
- Newcastle handed injury boost
- Leeds' January transfer plans revealed by Phil Hay
- Aston Villa ace tipped for January move