Despite starting Burnley’s 6-1 friendly win against Nice yesterday, the Daily Telegraph are reporting that goalkeeper Tom Heaton is on his way to Aston Villa for a fee of £8m (with a further possible £500,000 add-on)
The former Manchester United youth prospect has one-year left on his contract and Burnley have a well-stocked goalkeeping department, including Joe Hart and Nick Pope.
If it goes through, the fee for the 33-year-old Burnley captain will be considered a decent piece of business considering some of the other fees this transfer window.
Heaton has astute positional sense, a calm presence, experience and is a first rate shot stopper, just what a potentially unpredictable Villa team require on their return to the Premier League.
In recent years, Heaton has suffered from the being out of the game for almost a year due to dislocating his shoulder in September 2017, and then suffering a calf problem that thwarted him making an earlier return – and forced Burnley boss Sean Dyche to get Joe Hart in.
The timing no doubt hindered his international ambitions, but Heaton was still on stand-by for the England’s 2018 World Cup squad, despite failing to make his mark on the international scene beyond the odd appearance.
At 6ft 2, he’s actually the same height as Villa’s current number Jed Steer, who had hopes of being Villa’s number one this coming season.
Steer is in a strange position, because while some fans proclaim him not to be a Premier League keeper, the fact is he didn’t put a foot wrong when starting for Villa last season and was a huge reason the team won promotion – from saving a penalty against Sheffield Wednesday to making some fine saves in the play-off semi-final against the Baggies, including winning the penalty shoot-out.
Certainly, when Steer has given a new four-year deal, it was a sign that Villa were never going to recklessly splash over £20m on Stoke City’s Jack Butland. He’s already proven himself above a Norwegian and Croatian international keeper, so will feel he has done enough to earn a crack at the Premier League.
So what of Lovre Kalinic and Orlan Nyland?
If Villa are ready to move on Heaton, then surely one or both, will be already lined-up to leave? Villa certainly wouldn’t want to waste paying out wages to too many keepers, while Kalanic and Nyland won’t want to see their career’s stagnate by playing third or fourth fiddle.
If Kalinic leaves, after only coming in during this year’s January window, that would go down as the only real misfire of the new regime’s recruitment team.
If there’s any doubts about the current Villa squad being assembled, it’s the lack of legitimate Premier League experience, so from that point of view, Heaton will be most welcome in a position that Villa can ill-afford to gamble with.
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