Sky Sports reported their sources understood Villa were in talks and Feyenoord later confirmed the rumours.
Surely this would be a major coup for Villa and fit into the bracket of bargain buys that Lambert stated he was looking at. Vlaar is the current captain of Feyenoord and featured for Holland in their, albeit, disastrous Euro 2012 campaign. At 27 years old, he has plenty of years left in him, providing he is over the injury problems which blighted his career a few seasons ago. He suffered a number of cruciate ligament injuries in the past, and missed the 07-08 and 08-09 seasons, however his recent call up to the Dutch national team and helping his club finish 2nd in the Eredivisie would suggest any injury problems are behind him and he is currently enjoying the best form of his career.
Paul Lambert, in a great sign of respect for his former Celtic team-mate, confirmed recently that Petrov would remain the club captain whilst he fought his battle with illness and he would look for someone to lead the team on match days in his absence. Is Ron Vlaar going to be the match day captain for Villa? He certainly has the experience and leadership qualities, highlighted in his role for Feyenoord, but do Villa already have someone in their current squad who could step up the plate?
The captain is traditionally the player everyone else looks up to and someone who puts their body on the line for the club, think Keane, Viera, or Gerrard. In Petrov’s absence, Villa’s longest serving current player, Agbonlahor took the captaincy but it remains unclear as to whether he will retain the armband this coming season, especially when he is continuously linked with Sunderland and former manager, Martin O’Neill. More recently, in Villa’s 2-1 victory over Burton at the weekend, Darren Bent was handed the captaincy, after it emerged he had volunteered himself for the position. Does this show a more mature Bent, who sees his long term future with the club and a possible captain?
It was highlighted last season that one of the main problems for Villa was their lack of senior players and once a few injuries struck, the youth were thrust into the limelight. Credit must be given to the club’s academy system as they have produced some exciting talent recently, but at the moment the likes of Herd, Lichaj and Gardner aren’t ready to captain the first team, which isn’t to say one of them won’t in the future.
Of the experienced pro’s, Petrov is the stand-out candidate for the captaincy, having done so for his native Bulgaria and would still be there if he hadn’t taken ill, but so has Richard Dunne for the Republic of Ireland, leading them out at Euro 2012. He is another player who missed part of the season through injury, but could be a strong candidate, providing Vlaar isn’t a replacement for him. It has however, been suggested that Dunne’s defensive partner Collins could be the one on his way, again, with a move to Sunderland. In his time at Villa, Collins has had a few problems, most recently involving an altercation with some bouncers in Birmingham and previously coming close to blows with former assistant manager Gary McAllister, an incident in which Dunne was also involved. Two other experienced players have been linked with moves away, Warnock and Hutton, who was just been left off the clubs squad list for their tour to America.
Of the other squad members, it is hard to identify another candidate other than the experienced Shay Given to lead Villa out on the opening game of the season against West Ham. Are we likely to see another experienced signing by Lambert or is Ron Vlaar going to be the man with the armband?
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