The Dutchman is out of contract this summer following a testing season at Villa Park.
Out of contract in the summer, the Dutchman’s future has been the subject of incessant speculation since his impressive World Cup campaign with Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands side, with a host of top clubs linked with his signature.
Rumours of a reunion with Van Gaal at Old Trafford have been rampant throughout the season [/h/t The Guardian] but, despite Manchester United’s obvious need for an experienced centre-back, a move still failed to materalise in either of the past two transfer windows.
Nevertheless, with talks over an extension failing to get off the ground, a growing number of suitors have been named as potential destinations, with Dutch giants Ajax the latest to be added to the list [h/t SoccerNews.NL].
The defender has hinted in recent months that he could still sign a new deal due after seeing the effect Tim Sherwood’s arrival has had on the club, but the new manager himself has stressed that there will be no discussions until the season is done and dusted.
However, despite his reputation, letting Vlaar walk might just prove a wise decision on Villa’s part.
Appointed club captain in September 2012, just weeks after a £3.25 million move from Feyenoord, Vlaar’s leadership and experienced was vital to helping Villa stay up over the previous two relegation-threatened campaigns, but this term has proved somewhat of a nightmare.
The Netherlands international has made just 21 total appearances after missing large chunks of time with calf and knee injuries, while his performances have also come in for criticism – the horror show in last weekend’s 6-1 defeat at Southampton in particular.
His uncertain future has even prompted Sherwood to appoint a new captain in Fabian Delph, who looks like he has the job for the long-term, regardless of whether the now-former skipper returns to Villa Park next season.
Now aged 30, there is little reason to believe that Vlaar’s noted fitness problems are going to improve in the future and, while he has proved a solid Premier League defender in the past, it is also more than fair to suggest that the World Cup helped inflate his reputation to unwarranted heights.
One would nevertheless expect him to be demanding a significant wage package this summer, given the reported interest in his services, but Villa’s current centre-back depth means there is little reason to get involved in a potential bidding war.
Up-and-coming trio Ciaran Clark, Jores Okore and Nathan Baker have all shown a great deal of promise throughout the season, while summer signing Philippe Senderos also exceeded expectations before going down with a calf problem in November.
With the option to draft in further replacements over the coming months, there is a strong argument to make that Vlaar is expendable and, while there is still time to negotiate a new deal, Villa should not feel like they have to bow to his demands.
Make no mistake – he has proved a solid contributor for the claret and blues over the past three seasons but, in comparison to past favourites like Olof Mellberg and Martin Laursen, there should not be the same degree of disappointment over his potential departure.