Since signing from Feyenoord in July 2012, Ron Vlaar has stood out as one of the few bright spots during Aston Villa’s past two disappointing campaigns.
Earning the captain’s armband just months after his arrival, the Dutchman’s veteran leadership has been vital to the inexperienced squad’s efforts to stave off relegation in consecutive seasons, as the sole consistent performer on an unreliable backline.
Proving a defensive rock for the Netherlands at the World Cup over recent weeks, Vlaar’s impressive displays have earned him rave reviews but, unfortunately for Villa, also cast his future at the club into further doubt.
With just a year left on his current contract, the centre-back has yet to discuss a new deal and has already attracted the interest of both Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers this summer, his current national team boss Louis van Gaal set to take over the former.
Paul Lambert has expressed his desire in recent days to keep hold of his skipper, but would he in fact be wiser to cash in on the 29-year-old’s solid showing in Brazil?
Given the club’s severe lack of proven commodities and the poor depth in the squad, most fans would no doubt respond with an emphatic “no”.
Villa’s current dire financial situation, as want-away owner Randy Lerner continues to search for potential buyers, means a quality replacement would be tough to find, with Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker failing to prove themselves up to Premier League standards, and Danish international Jores Okore only just returning from a cruciate ligament injury which wiped out his first season at the club.
Lambert has been forced to sign low-cost veteran options to bolster his thin squad thus far, bringing in Philippe Senderos and Joe Cole on a pair of transfers, but neither’s arrival has done much to quell concerns about the upcoming campaign.
With a poor reputation in England, Senderos’ signing in particular has been greeted with a great deal of backlash, his performance in Switzerland’s 5-2 World Cup defeat to France last month leaving fans even more disgruntled about the prospect of him suiting up for Villa in defence.
|Team||Total Tackle / apps||Won Tackle %||Duel Lost / apps||Aerial Lost / apps||Interception Won / apps||Fouls / apps||Pass %||Ball Recovery / apps||Apps||Mins|
|Ron Vlaar||Aston Villa||2.03||84.62||1.94||0.91||2.00||0.34||76.89||4.66||32||2,805|
|Nathan Baker||Aston Villa||0.97||72.41||4.77||2.87||1.50||1.17||68.88||1.67||30||2,478|
|Ciaran Clark||Aston Villa||1.70||82.61||3.07||1.63||0.93||1.11||72.91||2.63||27||2,202|
There’s therefore no question that Vlaar is needed, but one also has consider that he’s no spring chicken, dealing with his fair share of niggling injuries in the past, and with his current contract situation leaving the door open for him to leave for nothing next summer.
As United search for reinforcements following the departure of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, should the title contenders offer a significant sum in an attempt to reunite “Concrete Ron” with van Gaal at Old Trafford then Villa will have to at least consider it.
Having seen so many of the side’s top players depart over recent years, another leaving in similar circumstances would not please supporters whatsoever, but it might just prove the most sensible decision in the long run if it can create some much-needed funds.