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Ron Vlaar On His Way To Aston Villa -- Finally Strengthening The Center

Ron Vlaar -- already rocking the Villa defender haircut.
Ron Vlaar -- already rocking the Villa defender haircut.

It's not been formalised yet -- he's got to undergo a medical -- but Aston Villa and Ron Vlaar have agreed on personal terms, and it's almost certain that the Dutch defender will be signed to a three-year contract. The centre-back, aged 27, comes to Villa Park from Feyenoord, where he spent the last six seasons. Alas, that medical might be more than just a formality, as Vlaar missed two entire seasons with knee damage. But he was certainly back in action last season, when he helped the Rotterdam club reach second in the Eredivisie.

There's not too much to say about Vlaar. He's a defender, after all, and it's not like we can post highlight videos of his amazing skills and tricks. But that's exactly what the Villa need right now: someone steady and dependable at the back. Richard Dunne is still credible, but he's on his way out. James Collins seemed to fall off a cliff last season. Nathan Baker is not a regular starter. Ciaran Clark definitely can be, but he needs a solid partner. Vlaar and Clark at the back is a pairing I'd look forward to much more than Dunne and Collins. Even a rotation of Vlaar, Clark and Dunne would be acceptable.

The Villa under Paul Lambert aren't chasing flash. They're not after big names. But they're also not piling up the wage bill or trying to squish players into a system in which they don't fit. And that, at this point, is reason to celebrate. The club is finally looking outside the English and Scottish leagues -- although with Vlaar, Brett Holman and Karim El Ahmadi the danger might be in going too Dutch.

But that danger remains slight. I don't pretend to be an expert in the Eredivisie, but much of the style of play is similar to the way that Lambert is taking the club. Vlaar is still strong and physical, necessary traits for a centre back in the Premier League, but he's not going to resort to Collins-style hoofing all the time. Another step toward possession football, and another reason that August 18th just can't come quickly enough.