Why benched Brad Guzan should still be in Aston Villa's long-term plans

The 30-year-old goalkeeper has been linked with a departure after losing his starting spot to Shay Given.

Christian Benteke aside, there is a strong argument to make that Brad Guzan has been Aston Villa’s most important player over the past three seasons but, after losing his place to Shay Given in recent weeks, the American goalkeeper is now reported to be facing an uncertain future.

Replacing Given between the posts in September 2012, Guzan would go on to be hailed as one of the top-flight’s leading custodians after saving Villa from relegation in back-to-back campaigns with his shot-stopping heroics, but this term has proved somewhat more testing.

While his starting credentials had never once been questioned until recent months, a combination of Given’s FA Cup performances and a few goal-costing errors saw the US international’s spot come under increasing pressure, before a horrendous blunder in the early stages of last month’s narrow 3-2 defeat at Manchester City brought his run of 108 straight league starts to a screeching halt.

Since sitting out the past three matches, Sherwood is now said to have his sights set on adding a new long-term number one this summer, with the Daily Mail naming FC Cologne’s Tim Horn, Molde’s Orjan Nyland and Brentford’s David Button as prime targets.

The latter in fact worked with Sherwood during his time on Tottenham Hotspur’s coaching staff and, with Villa goalkeeping coach Tony Parks also known to be a big fan, the Telegraph claim that his potential addition would prompt Villa to put Guzan on the market.

Nevertheless, despite a down season in comparison to his previous exploits, getting rid of the US international would still seem like a more than rash decision after what he has shown during his time in the Midlands.

At age 30, the former MLS star is on the cusp of his prime as a keeper, while he has proven on numerous occasions that he can be an elite Premier League starter – one capable of saving his side a sizeable amount of points per season.

In the grand scheme of things, his performances this term have been far from terrible, while even the likes of Thibaut Courtois and David de Gea have made a couple of errors over the course of their celebrated campaigns.

  PositionTeamSavesCrosses ClaimedAppearancesMins Played
Robert Green GK QPR 132 51 36 3,184
Lukasz Fabianski GK Swansea 131 86 36 3,218
Tom Heaton GK Burnley 123 47 37 3,330
Hugo Lloris GK Tottenham 106 42 34 2,974
Brad Guzan GK Aston Villa 101 72 34 3,060
Costel Pantilimon GK Sunderland 101 67 27 2,430

Still among the Premier League leaders in saves and cross claimed this season, Guzan has not just lost his skills overnight and, as Manchester City’s Joe Hart has demonstrated of late, there is no reason to believe he cannot bounce back from his benching to restore his reputation.

With his international ambitions to consider, the Chicago-native could well ask Sherwood for a move if he feels he does not have his manager’s confidence but, taking into account his age, track record and character, one has to feel that he still has a great deal to offer Villa.

The last thing the claret and blue faithful want to see is another ousted first-teamer go on to star elsewhere and, in Guzan’s case, there is every chance of that happening.

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