Premier League strugglers Aston Villa could reportedly let captain James Chester leave with Championship outfit Stoke City keen on the Tony Pulis favourite.
Aston Villa captain James Chester is closing in on a move to the Potteries with Stoke City confident of signing the experienced defender before Friday’s transfer deadline, according to the Sun (30 January, page 54).
With Euro 2020 on the horizon, the next 24 hours or so could make-or-break Chester’s hopes of representing his nation in a major international tournament.
The 31-year-old centre-back has not played a single second of Premier League football since Aston Villa’s promotion and, with Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause, Bjorn Engels and Ezri Konsa all ahead of him in the pecking order, that is unlikely to change any time soon.
Chester is understandably desperate to put his injury problems behind him and a mid-season move to Stoke is now a genuine possibility.
The Sun reports that a team revitalised under Michael O’Neill are ‘confident’ of wrapping up a deal for the £8 million forgotten man. Stoke have kept three clean sheets in a row and the arrival of Chester, a proven Championship defender who sealed promotion via the play-offs as recently as May, threatens to break up the promising Danny Batth-Liam Lindsay partnership.
Tony Pulis worked with Chester at West Brom and the former Stoke boss certainly knows a talented centre-back when he sees on. And, in quotes reported by The Stoke Sentinal, a veteran Welshman has backed his compatriots move to the Bet365 Stadium.
”He’s a tremendous lad with a fantastic attitude, he really is, and you couldn’t but like the lad,” said Pulis.
”He’s been a very, very good player in the Championship down the years and won promotion with both Hull and Aston Villa, so he’s got good form and experience at this level.
“As a player, I would describe him as a safe defender and he will certainly add to what Stoke already have. He should be a very good signing.”