The big news around Aston Villa right now is not their 4-1 thumping at the hands of FC Groningen in a preseason friendly. Instead, it was the fact that Paul Lambert is increasingly confident that Ron Vlaar will remain at Aston Villa for the coming season. When asked about a brief meeting that he had with the captain of the club, Lambert said that Vlaar is "positive and raring to go. He's looking forward to getting going." Lambert added that the attitude "in itself, is a plus. He loves it here."
The positive attitude comes amid worries that Villa won't re-sign Vlaar, who only has a year left on his contract. Adding to our collective panic is the fact that lots of clubs are looking eager to sign the Dutchman, who was one of the stars of the team that placed third in this summer's World Cup.
We already knew that Southampton, Tottenham, and Manchester United want to grab Vlaar, but on Friday numerous reports surfaced that suggested we should add Juventus to the list of clubs we vehemently hate. The good news, so far as I can tell, is that the reports aren't much better sourced than the ones from earlier last week that suggested fellow Serie A side Lazio was getting into the race for Vlaar. For as much as I hate the rumour mill in the English press surrounding English clubs, its even worse when dealing with clubs on the continent.
For now, the combination of Lambert's positive words and the lack of any strong connection between anyone else and Vlaar should ease our minds. I know there are some who don't think quite as highly of Vlaar as we do around here, but there is no doubt in my mind that he is one of Aston Villa's best players. Even if you don't rate him all that highly, there really isn't much competition in the club for that kind of title, and losing him could be a serious blow in what promises already to be a tough season.