Reports have emerged linking Aston Villa’s Dutch international defender, Ron Vlaar, with a move away from the Birmingham club after the 29 year old put in a string of impressive performances during his national-side’s run to a third-place finish in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Vlaar’s transfer would come as a potentially crippling blow for Paul Lambert’s side ahead of what is a crucial Premier League season for Aston Villa following on from three consecutive bottom half of the table finishes. Manchester United or AS Roma have been mooted as Vlaar’s most likely destination should his departure come to pass.
Vlaar was ever-present at the heart of Louis Van Gaal’s three-man defence in Brazil and constituted an assured and calming presence alongside the highly rated but inexperienced Feyenoord duo of Martins Bruno-Indi and Stefan de Vrij. The Netherland’s manager, who is set to assume the running at Manchester United when the first-team squad depart for a pre-season tour of America later this week, is rumoured to be keen to bring Vlaar to Old Trafford to form part of a what will be a new look defence in the wake of the free-transfer departures of the Ferguson-era stalwarts, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
The highly rated teenage left-back, Luke Shaw, and the Atletico Bilbao midfielder, Angel Herrera, have already been added to a United squad undergoing wholesale restructuring in the wake of a dismal campaign under David Moyes the last time out. The Red Devils are reported to have forked out fees in excess of £30 million to secure both players and Vlaar would constitute an attractive cut-price option to bolster the centre of the defence.
Louis Van Gaal may well hope that the Dutchman’s experience and reliability under pressure will provide the sort of calm, moderating influence for a youthful Manchester United defence that it did for his national side in Brazil. At 29 Vlaar would not be a long-term replacement for the departing Vidic or Ferdinand but nor he would not block the first-team development of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones whom the United coaching staff hope will go on to form the defensive pillars of the post-Ferguson era team.
Serie A side, AS Roma, are also reported to retain an interest in Vlaar’s signature should Villa be unwilling to sell to a Premier League rival. The Italian giants excelled to a second place finish in Serie A last season under the influence of French coach, Rudi Garcia (brought in from Lille), and Roma possess the added incentive of being able to offer Vlaar Champions League football in the coming campaign where United are not.
Vlaar has impressed greatly in the Premier League since joining Villa from Feyenoord in the summer of 2012. The Dutchman has made 53 appearances for Villa to date, scoring two goals. He was named club captain for the 2012–13 season owing to the continued absence of Bulgarian midfielder, Stiliyan Petrov, as he battled cancer.
Vlaar’s aerial prowess and robust tackling foiled well last time out with the more languid, passing game of Irish youngster, Ciaran Clarke, and he would be difficult for Paul Lambert to replace with a player of equal talent given Villa’s current financial constraints. Lambert and the Villa faithful alike, therefore, will just have to hope that Philippe Senderos has been signed as cover for Vlaar and not as his replacement ahead of the new campaign.