With it no secret that Ron Vlaar’s future at Aston Villa is in serious doubt, manager Paul Lambert already appears be lining up potential replacements for the 29-year-old centre-back should he depart in the winter.
The main name mentioned over the past week is West Bromwich Albion’s Jonas Olsson, who, having fallen behind Joleon Lescott in the pecking order at the Hawthorns, could be available on the market.
Signed from NEC Nijmegen in August 2008 for around £800,000, Olsson has made 210 total appearances for the Baggies, and the stats since the start of last season show that the experienced Swede would at least prove a capable substitute were Villa to lose their star skipper to Manchester United, Arsenal or even Southampton.
|Team||Outfield Blocks GAME||Total Tackles GAME||Tackles Accuracy||Total Clearances GAME||Aerial Duels Won GAME||Aerial Duel Success||Interceptions GAME||Fouls GAME||Passing Accuracy||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Ron Vlaar||Aston Villa||0.62||1.77||84%||6.69||1.44||57.73%||1.92||0.31||78%||39||3,435|
|Jonas Olsson||West Brom||0.47||0.67||75%||8.58||3.36||65.41%||1.81||0.64||79%||36||3,179|
|Nathan Baker||Aston Villa||0.86||1||70%||7.68||3.11||53.24%||1.49||1.03||70%||37||2,960|
|Philippe Senderos||Aston Villa / Fulham||1.15||0.85||65%||6.8||1.35||52.94%||1.7||1||85%||20||1,659|
At 6ft 4in, it’s no surprise that Olsson dominates in the air and, while it's far from a surprise to see that he might prove a downgrade from Vlaar, there remains reason to belief that the 24-times capped international could hold down a starting spot ahead of current alternatives Philippe Senderos and Nathan Baker.
Aged 31, the left-footed stopper wouldn't be a long-term solution but, with his experience and leadership, having captained West Brom in the past, he could be just what Villa are looking for in an affordable veteran.
The claret and blue faithful might be hesitant to take on a back-up from their West Midlands rivals, but it's also worth nothing that Olsson considers Villa legend and and compatriot Olof Mellberg his inspiration, and if he could produce some similar performances then fans might not miss Vlaar all that much.