Nathan Baker and Janoi Donacien are out on loan, to gain some much needed playing experience, Senderos didn’t make the cut, and has missed out on a place in the 25-man squad, and Ron Vlaar didn’t sign a contract extension, after claiming he can “do better than Aston Villa”. Despite this, with a further two centre-backs being signed on deadline day, the total number of players who can comfortably play in that position has risen to seven, which raises the question, who should start?
Up until a couple of years ago, you could hear the collective sighs rings around Villa Park as Clark’s name was announced pre-game. Things have changed though. Clark is much improved, and is now becoming one of Villa’s best and most important players. He still has some learning to do, but being just 25, a relatively young age for a Premier League centre-back, there’s still time for him to make further improvements.
José Ángel Crespo
A pretty unknown quantity, as he only managed a brief appearance in a pre-season game vs Nottingham Forest, before picking up an injury. Crespo can play anywhere across the back four, and was seemingly signed to be a backup utility man, so I wouldn’t expect to see much from him in terms of Premier League playing time.
A deadline day signing which was made official after the 6pm deadline, and one that has caused much anger amongst supporters of Liverpool Football Club. Fans are furious that he wasn’t given a chance in their struggling defence, and the fact that this deal has the chance to become permanent if he performs well, has added further fuel to the fire. Tim Sherwood has stated how shocked he is that Liverpool let him leave, and at just 22, I feel like we should be excited about the prospect of this U21 Portuguese international playing on a regular basis.
After a transfer saga which has gone on for years, Lescott has finally joined his reported boyhood club, but this move has come at a later time than many would have hoped. Lescott is now 33 years of age, and Sherwood himself has admitted that Villa aren’t getting a player in his prime. With that being said, the Premier Leauge winning defender will offer some much needed experience, not only to the defence, but to the squad as a whole. The manager has also expressed his desire to sign winners, and Lescott is without question a winner.
After impressing in a Champion’s League fixture vs Chelsea, for his previous club FC Nordsjælland, Okore became one of the hottest centre-back properties in Europe. So it was to the surprise of many when he decided to join Aston Villa in the summer of 2013. Since then, he’s suffered with multiple injured, but when he has played, he’s impressed. Okore is a player definitely worth getting excited about.
Signed as a free agent on June 17th, Richards was made team captain just over two weeks later. He’s led by example, and as I mentioned in an earlier blog, if he’s able to stay free from injury, he could turn out to be one of the signings of the summer. Richards is naturally a right-back, something which is pretty evident due to his forward runs, but Villa signed him with the intent of playing him as a central defender, and so far, it’s paying off.
Despite being more at home as a central defensive midfielder, Sánchez has slotted into the middle of Villa’s back four on several occasions, most recently against Notts County in the 5-3 Capital One Cup victory. The fact that Villa conceded three goals against lower league opposition with him as a centre-back may be a little off-putting, but this was more likely due to the fact that Sherwood opted to go with three-attacking midfielders in front of the backline. He reads the game well, and is adapting to the pace of the league the more he plays. I wouldn’t like to see Sánchez be made a centre-back permanently, but it’s definitely an option.