While most expect Ron Vlaar to be leaving Aston Villa when his contract expires in the summer, the skipper’s recent comments to the Daily Telegraph on Tim Sherwood suggest his new boss might have a fighting chance of keeping him at club.
Linked with a switch to Manchester United since his solid World Cup showing for Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands side, Vlaar was expected to leave for Old Trafford this winter, per the likes of the Guardian, but an ill-timed knee operation put paid to his chances of landing a move.
Talks over a new deal are ongoing, according to the Telegraph, but amid further interest from Arsenal, Napoli and Southampton, there is a sense that the Dutch centre-back is preparing for a new challenge.
SportItalia journalist Alfredo Pedulla has even reported in the past week that Roma have been in talks with his entourage over signing a pre-contract agreement but, despite all the reported interest, there might still be hope for Villa.
With Sherwood arriving this week as the much-maligned Paul Lambert’s replacement, the squad have been raving about how the entire club has been energised, and Vlaar is no exception.
“Since the new manager has come in the energy level of the squad is higher, for obvious reasons; everybody has a new chance,” he said.
“Everybody feels like they can get into the team if they do well in training and that has been really good. Every manager wants things done in a different way so we have been learning this week how the manager wants things done.
“Sometimes new things are good for the mind, it brings some freshness and it can help the mentality of the players.
“When a new manager comes in and makes changes you need to learn what he wants you to do so communication is a big part of that. He talks a lot and tells us what we should be doing.”
It’s no secret that Villa had fallen into a malaise under Lambert which no doubt left the likes of Vlaar keen to jump ship but, with a new ambitious manager on board, there might just be the motivation to stick around and start afresh.
The 31-times capped international is settled in the West Midlands after all and, judging from his comments, is relishing the renewed atmosphere at the training ground.
That said, much will depend on whether Sherwood can keep the club from relegation with 13 games left to pull them out of 18th-place, with the former Tottenham Hotspur honcho admitting that contract talks with Vlaar will remain an afterthought during their survival battle.
“Obviously the club want to keep their best players and I’m sure the club will endeavour to try and keep Ron,” he told Telegraph prior to the weekend’s visit of Stoke. “I’ve been impressed with him and you need experience.
“But the contract situation is not really for now. The focus is picking the right team and Ron focusing on playing and doing the best for the club. He is, and so are the other boys.
“I know it’s an obvious statement but none of them want to get relegated. It’s all right saying it, they just have to show it. We need to try and do that this season and then try to look forward. First things first, we need to stay in the division.”
Regardless, while Vlaar’s Villa career looked to be all but set to end with Lambert remaining in charge, the arrival of Sherwood has at least instilled some hope that an extension is possible, irrespective of who might be interested in his signature.