Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has admitted that he is unsure about Ron Vlaar’s future at the club, in light of growing interest in his captain’s services.
Vlaar has been the subject of much transfer speculation this summer since helping the Netherland to a third-place finish at the World Cup, with the likes of Manchester United, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus, Lazio and Roma all linked to his signature.
At 29, and entering the final season of his contract, there have been strong suggestions that Villa could cash in before the end of the month, with his former national team coach Louis van Gaal said to be keen to bring the centre-back to Old Trafford to bolster a depleted back-line.
In addition, having played under new Saints boss Ronald Koeman at Feyenood for one season before joining Villa in August 2012, the south coast has also been touted as a potential destination, with his compatriot even going as far as to label Vlaar ‘the perfect addition’.
‘Vlaar became one of the best Oranje defenders for us at Feyenoord,’ he told Helden. ‘And at the last World Cup he became one of the best of the tournament.
‘He's a perfect addition to every group and a real leader. I would really like to have him at Southampton.’
Having been appointed skipper just months after his arrival, Vlaar’s veteran leadership has been vital to Villa maintaining their Premier League status over the last two seasons, but Lambert remains mum on his future status with the club, despite praising his conduct amidst the specuation.
‘I’m not sure there’s any loyalty in football anymore. We’ll have to wait and see, but it’ll be entirely up to him I think,’ he told the press.
‘To be fair to Ron, he’s never come to me or anything. We’ve just had little chats here and there.
‘I think his main concern was getting back from the World Cup and getting fit and hopefully being ready for Saturday.
‘I have a very good rapport with Ron so I don’t have any problem with that whatsoever.’
With Villa’s backline facing questions as it is entering the new season, the loss of Vlaar would be a further blow to their efforts to avoid a fourth-consecutive relegation-threatened campaign.
However, given their current financial status, with a new owner still to be found, a significant bid might just prove too good to turn down.