Aston Villa hoping trio will sign deals to stay beyond summer
Aston Villa may have started the Premier League season in positive fashion, gaining the same amount of points as Arsenal and Liverpool after seven games, but have the difficult task of getting three of their star players to sign new deals.
New England international Fabian Delph, World Cup star Ron Vlaar and Republic of Ireland hot prospect Jack Grealish are all out of contract this summer, but have reportedly been offered extended and more lucrative contracts.
Former Leeds United midfielder Delph has wowed Villa fans the last two seasons, following an injury-hit first three campaigns, and the 24-year-old has earned himself three caps for the Three Lions this year as a result.
It has been reported that last season’s club Player of the Year has been offered a four-year deal, but the likes of Manchester United are ready to pounce if talks break down.
His teammate Vlaar, meanwhile, who is not amongst the top Villans earners, looks more likely to leave, with the centre back said to not even be interested in a £50k-a-week rise. The Red Devils are also reportedly in for the 29-year-old.
Vlaar highly impressed for the Netherlands under Louis van Gaal at the World Cup finals in Brazil, helping them to a third place finish, and the Dutchmen could reunite at Old Trafford as soon as January for a cut price.
It is said that Vlaar could be available for as little as £4m in the winter window, with Tottenham, Everton and Roma also tracking him.
There is more positive news surrounding English-born Grealish, though, who looks set to sign a new £20k-a-week contract, after an impressive season that has seen him play five times in all competitions for Villa.
Attacker Grealish is still only 19 years old, but is being targeted by Premier League title hopes Chelsea (odds-on at 1/2) and Manchester City (5/2). He has already turned down the country of his birth at youth level to play for the land of his father, so far as high as the Under-21s. He is still eligible for both nations, though.
Villa and ROI assistant manager Roy Keane has spoken on the hype of the winger: “He’s done very little in the game yet. People are getting a bit carried away, he’s not started a game in the league for Villa, he’s not scored a goal yet, he’s not got an assist yet.”
“If he wants to come and play for Ireland, we’ll be delighted but we can’t be begging people either. If they want to play for Ireland, fantastic. If not, we’ll have to accept it.”
Keane, meanwhile, has spoken about his own future at Villa, claiming that he would pick assisting Martin O’Neill for the Republic of Ireland over the West Midlands side with Paul Lambert if things get too difficult.
“I feel that if I am taking my eye off the ball with Ireland, then I will leave Aston Villa,” he said. “There is no doubt about that. I have told Lambert that, told Martin that and told the FAI that.
“But at the moment, it is OK. If we lose three or four on the spin [with Ireland], then I will leave Villa. But I’m still getting to games, I am on the training pitch at Villa, improving and am working with Irish lads like young Grealish.
“The guilt would kill me if I thought ‘I am on a cushy one here’. I couldn’t work that way. I said before that you could do only one job, but I said that because I was only in the Ireland job a short period of time.
“I didn’t just jump into it with Villa. I sat down with Paul Lambert, had a think, and sat down Martin and the FAI and thought, I can adapt to this. It felt like a full-time job, but, having been in the Ireland job a while, I felt I could manage to do both.”
Villa, who are in 10th place on 10 points this campaign in the Premier League, are 7/2 chances to stay there or higher come the end of the season.