Report: Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan has Premier League options but open to MLS return

Aston Villa's Brad Guzan

Two English top-flight clubs are said to be interested in a move for the US international following Villa's relegation.

Aston Villa's Brad Guzan

Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan would consider returning to MLS this summer despite attracting interest from two Premier League clubs, according to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

Guzan, 31, began his professional career in MLS with now-defunct Chivas USA after being drafted second overall in the 2005 SuperDraft and went on to feature 79 times for the Los Angeles-based club over the next four seasons, claiming the Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2007 after recording a league-leading 13 clean sheets.

The former University of South Carolina standout’s impressive displays eventually earned him a £1 million move to Villa in August 2008 after overcoming some initial work permit problems, but he was forced to spend his first four seasons with the claret and blues on the bench while earning just a handful of appearances.

He finally seized the No. 1 jersey from Shay Given during the early stages of the 2012-13 campaign, however, and proceeded to help save Paul Lambert’s side from relegation in back-to-back seasons with his shot-stopping heroics, winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 2013 and earning a reputation as one of the Premier League’s leading keepers in the process.

Since 2015, though, the US international has endured a dramatic decline in form and been dropped under three different managers after committing an increasing number of goal-gifting blunders.

His most recent benching occurred last month when caretaker boss Eric Black opted to replace him with Mark Bunn for the final three games of the season, and it now remains to be seen what the future holds for the under-fire American at Villa Park.

While he still has another 12 months left on his contract, the relegated club’s squad is set for an extensive overhaul this summer under a new manager and the 42-times capped keeper could well end up being deemed expendable.

Incoming owner Tony Xia, who was announced as Randy Lerner’s successor last week, has already pledged to invest up to £50 million in the squad, and the Chinese businessman himself as even suggested that some of those funds could be spent on a new keeper.

Guzan is now said to be weighing up his options in the face of a potential departure and Wahl’s report claims that he is willing to move back to MLS if he receives the right offer.

In addition, the Villa veteran is also alleged to have two Premier League suitors despite his recent struggles, but it is unclear whether either club views him as a potential starter.

Speaking about his future last week during an interview with MLSSoccer.com, Guzan stressed that he remains committed to helping Villa in their bid to bounce straight back to the top-flight but also admitted that things could soon change under a new regime.

“Obviously, I just saw the news regarding the sale,” he said. “I think Randy Lerner has been trying to sell for some time and now they’ve got that over the line in terms of the new owner.

“We’ll see what that brings. At some point they’ll name a new manager, so obviously that’s going to be important. But in terms of myself, I’ve got a year left [on my contract], so I don’t know what’s going to happen. As far as I know, I’m still under contract so nothing’s changed in that sense.”

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero in action with Aston Villa's Brad Guzan

In the meantime, Guzan received some good news on the international front at the weekend when he was named as the USA’s starting keeper over Tim Howard for next month’s Copa American Centenario.

Despite his plight at Villa, the Chicago native fared well with the States while his compatriot took a 12-month sabbatical from international football after the 2014 World Cup – winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup’s Golden Glove award last summer for the tournament’s best goalkeeper – and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has since been choosing to rotate the pair following Howard’s return to the fold last September.

However, after Howard lost his starting spot at Everton to Joel Robles during this past season’s run-in, the German decided that Guzan would be the better option to start between the posts come their tournament opener against Colombia on 3 June.

Explaining his decision to Sports Illustrated, Klinsmann said: “Tim obviously took a year off after an amazing tournament in Brazil, and then he lost his spot at Everton. He concluded his career overseas with Everton and left his club as a real legend with what he did. I’m very proud of him, and he’s coming home to MLS.

“But [Howard] hasn’t played much the last half-year. Brad was with us obviously the whole time. He became the No. 1. He played the Gold Cup. None of the games over the last two years, even if he didn’t win the Gold Cup, did he make any mistakes. If you go through all the games and go through his club situation, he had a very tough year with Aston Villa being relegated. And also losing the No. 1 spot [there], winning it back, losing it again. He had a real battlefield the entire season.

“The decision went to [Guzan] because we believe he will continue to be excellent the way he’s done it the last two years with the national team. I had a long talk with Tim last week, and he totally understands, totally supports the decision. He knew we can only play one goalkeeper. For me it’s really important to have Tim on board.”

Southampton's Sadio Mane in action with Aston Villa's Brad Guzan

Guzan now has a prime chance to put himself in the shop window with an impressive Copa America, while goalkeeper-needy MLS sides are sure to be keeping a close eye on any developments with his club situation in the meantime.

Should he return to the States, his hometown Chicago Fire would be an obvious fit given their current issues at the position, but it is not out of the question either that a solid run of form at the tournament could just convince Villa to keep hold of him.

Aston Villa's Brad Guzan, Ciaran Clark and teammates look dejected after Watford's third goal

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