Centre Back Overload
Going into the 2017/18 season, Aston Villa now find themselves with a squad of notable named centre-backs.
Check out the roll call…
European Cup winner John Terry, once the highest paid player in the Premier League in 2007. Chris Samba, who Harry Rednapp said, would be “the best centre half in the Championship”, if he had stayed on at QPR, after they were relegated. James Chester, a European Championship semi-finalist centre-back with Wales. And even the much-maligned Micah Richards has a Premier League medal to his name.
Much has been made about Tommy Elphick being pointed to the exit door following Villa’s recent acquisition of both Terry and Samba, but with also the return to fitness of Ritchie De Laet, who can cover at centre-back, Villa are currently three potential centre-backs up on last season, so expect another to leave.
Little has been said about the prospects of Nathan Baker, who had actually made decent progress in the Championship in the past couple of seasons and will feel he’s approaching his prime.
So, what does the immediate future hold for Baker?
With Villa, last season, and the previous season on loan at Bristol City, Baker managed 35 games and over in consecutive seasons, marking a considerable development in his career considering how susceptible to knocks and injuries, the centre-back had been.
While there are question marks over his reading of the game (which he often compensates through bravery, resulting in injury), Baker’s performance levels too were perhaps the best of his career, but the 26-year-old now faces being on the fringes of the Villa squad, if he sticks around.
Baker, considering his age – no longer ‘up-and-coming’ – needs to be a starter at Championship level. He only has to look at how his former teammate Ciaran Clark has flourished since he made the decision to leave Villa, to see the benefits of what could happen.
With Steve Bruce granting Chris Samba a contract, it potentially suggests a decision has already been made on Baker’s future, either by the club or the player himself.
There is apparently registered interest in the player, from what MOMS has heard on the grapevine, so Baker will have some decisions to make in the upcoming days and weeks.
Watch this space.
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