Former Aston Villa midfielder George Boateng has been impressed with the summer signings manager Paul Lambert has made, but believes the best piece of business was holding onto Ron Vlaar.
Vlaar, 29, had been the subject of multiple transfer rumours over recent months following his starring role for the Netherlands at the World Cup, with the likes of Manchester United, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus, Roma and Lazio all reported to be courting his signature.
However, Villa managed to beat the odds to keep hold of their star captain, and Boateng believes his fellow Dutchman will lead them through a much more successful season as a result.
‘Ron is my favourite player at Villa because of what he brings to the team,’ he told the Birmingham Mail.
‘I know him well from our time with the national team and because he also played for Feyenoord.
‘I played in his first game for Holland against Italy in Amsterdam and he has shown what a great defender he is.
‘He is not my favourite player because of our connections together but because of his solidity on the pitch.
‘He was immense at the World Cup and I think he surprised a lot of people as to how good he actually is.
‘He has become a rock for club and country and I am very happy that Villa managed to keep him.’
With his contract up next summer, Villa still have to negotiate a new deal with Vlaar, but Boateng insists the current crop will ensure that the future is bright at the club regardless.
‘I do believe there are some great young players there,’ he said.
‘Look at Fabian Delph, who made his England debut last week, I think he will be even better in a few years’ time.
‘It’s been a good experience for the young players who have played in the Premier League under Paul Lambert.
‘Don’t forget that Sir Alex [Ferguson] won the league with a lot of young players and so did Louis van Gaal at Ajax.’