A couple weeks ago, I wrote on how Aston Villa need to tie down a crucial, young centre back to ensure he doesn’t leave on the cheap at the end of his contract.
Of course, two weeks ago, I wrote about Ciaran Clark, and since then, it looks like the club may be making significant progress on a new deal for the Irishman. But he’s not the only centre back Tom Fox and Tim Sherwood should be in contact about when it comes to agreeing a longer-term deal.
Thanks to missing almost his entire first season due to injury, Jores Okore — who finally properly broke through last year after a rash of injuries to the Claret and Blues’ back line — has just 23 months left on his contract, a situation that the club must monitor heading into the 2015/16 season.
We’ve talked a lot about the issues the club had when it came to the contract situations of Ron Vlaar and, more specifically, Fabian Delph, and whether or not they’d learn from them going forward.
Unfortunately with Clark, the possibility still remains that he doesn’t want to re-up with Villa, though we’d think something would have leaked by now. That said, being in a similar position to the one Delph was in 12 months ago, the Republic of Ireland defender may want to have the opportunity to weigh potential destinations next July. And that’s perfectly fine, and at the end of the day, something the current regime can’t control.
Okore’s contract situation, however, is something the club can control. He’s a young player who figures to have a bright future with the club, and he had a solid 2014/15 campaign when he was fit and on the pitch.
And at the same time, he hasn’t particularly done enough yet to attract real, concrete interest from larger sides, and likely won’t in the next 12 months. (Note: This could leave him and the club in the exact same position Clark is in right now.)
Thus, a new contract should make sense for both parties. Okore can get a few more thousand quid in the bank each week, and Villa can add, say, two more years onto the Danish centre back’s contract. It’s a move that makes sense, and one the club should take before the player gets any better.
While he’s the biggest one with a contract expiring in 2017, and should be the priority, he’s not the only Villan the club should be in contact with. If, after a couple months, it’s apparent Libor Kozák and Ashley Westwood are in the long-term plans at B6, they too should be brought in for contract discussions.
We often talk about securing guys who have fewer than 12 months left on their deals, and yes, they should be the priority, it’s preferable to not get to that stage with any influential players.
Villa have done well so far this summer when it comes to asset management with their new acquisitions, but it’s time to see if they’ll do the same for their existing lot.