Premier League clubs chase Hull City defender James Chester
The tabloid press are linking Hull City and Wales defender James Chester with most Premier League clubs following the Tigers’ relegation last term.
It has been a remarkable rise for a player let go for just £300k by Manchester United to establish himself for club and country as a highly-rated centre back in recent times. Playing Premier League football would clearly be best for Warrington-born Chester, who qualifies for Wales through his mother from Rhyl.
The Dragons are flying high in international football, but Hull have it all to do to bounce straight back into the top-flight at 5/2 for Championship promotion. Which team would suit Chester best? Coral football experts have got their heads together and assess his options.
There is still a Ron Vlaar-shaped hole for Tim Sherwood to fill at Villa Park, and he has already recruited heavily in defence. Why not go the whole hog and buy an entirely new back four?
Jose Angel Crespo is set to sign for the Villans, and join Micah Richards and Jordan Amavi in their rearguard. Chester would thus form a best of British centre half pairing with the Republic of Ireland’s Ciaran Clark as his main competitor for first-team football.
Current Wales boss Chris Coleman most famously played for the Eagles, while international teammate and Dragons number one Wayne Hennessey remains on the books at Selhurst Park. Alan Pardew is assembling a squad capable of pushing up the table in what is Palace’s third successive Premier League season.
Chester would have to get past first-choice centre back pairing Scott Dann, who recently signed a new contract, and Damien Delaney. Brede Hangeland, Martin Kelly and Adrian Mariappa are all still at Selhurst too, so one of these or Paddy McCarthy would have to be moved on to make room for him.
Manchester United players can tend to end up at the Toffees and, with Roberto Martinez looking very light in central defence, Chester could provide competition for or even replace John Stones.
Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk is the latest name liked with Goodison Park, but for a similar valuation he looks a gamble compared with Chester, who has two Premier League campaigns of experience under his belt.
If Nigel Pearson was still in charge of the Foxes, then that might have been something to sway Chester into an East Midlands move. He was signed by the former Tigers gaffer on Humberside in January 2011 and his career has been on the up ever since.
Claudio Ranieri has succeeded Pearson at the King Power Stadium, however, and retains his penchant for pragmatism. Being in and out of a team tipped to struggle in their second Premier League season on the spin should not appeal, though Leicester did play with three at the back under Pearson.
Magpies club captain Fabricio Coloccini has not played a single minute of their pre-season and Mike Williamson looks well short of top-flight quality. Steve McClaren has nurtured British players throughout his coaching career in England, and could consider pairing imminent arrival Chancel Mbemba with Chester.
Ronald Koeman clearly needs to reinforce his defence, and has admitted as much after missing out on Toby Alderweireld and losing Florin Gardos to a serious knee injury. Chester could solve this centre back crisis and has Europa League football as an added incentive to switch to the Saints.
West Bromwich Albion
Tony Pulis is putting his own stamp on the Baggies squad and 30-something defenders Joleon Lescott, Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson could do with some relief. That is where Chester comes in to aid a trio who are all past their best in truth.