Roma remain the favourites to sign Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar in the summer, but the Giallorossi are set to face stiff competition from the likes of Serie A rivals Juventus and Napoli.
According to SportItalia journalist Alfredo Pedulla, Roma have been in constant contact with Vlaar’s entourage ahead of his Villa deal expiring at the end of the season, and are working to sign him to a pre-contract agreement in order to steal a march on fellow chasers.
The club were also looking at Ajax defender Niklas Moisander as a potential alternative but, with the Finland international striking a deal with Sampdoria instead, Vlaar now stands alone at the top of their wishlist.
The veteran centre-back’s future has been the subject of ongoing speculation following his impressive World Cup performance for Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands side, with his name since linked to a host of top European teams.
After Villa managed to hold onto their star skipper past the summer transfer deadline, a reunion with Van Gaal at Manchester United was mooted for last month, but an ill-timed knee operation which left him sidelined for six weeks put paid to a potential move.
Interest from within England remains, according to Pedulla, but a switch to the continent looks the more probable outcome at this point.
Vlaar, 29, has made 77 total appearances for Villa since arriving from Feyenoord in August 2012 for a reported £3 million fee, before being handed the captain’s armband just a month later in the continued absence of Stiliyan Petrov, as the Bulgarian battled cancer.
The 31-times capped Dutchman has suffered with various nagging injuries during his time in the West Midlands, however, with calf and knee problems restricting him to just 12 Premier League appearances this term.
Now said to be eager to move on from Villa, as the club face the prospect of relegation, he could well follow in the footsteps of another former claret and blue skipper, Olof Mellberg, who left for Juventus in the summer of 2008 after signing a pre-contract agreement with the Italian giants in mid-season.
For the moment, though, it’s Roma which looks like his likeliest destination and, given Villa’s current depth in the centre of defence, fans perhaps shouldn’t be too despondent at his anticipated departure.
That said, considering management had the chance to make a significant profit on his signature in the summer after his showing in Brazil, one can’t help but feel that his future could have been better handled over recent months.