While a goalkeeper may not have been among the most desired purchases on Aston Villa’s shopping list this summer, the signing of Tom Heaton from Burnley FC may turn out to be Villa’s most important signing of an extremely busy transfer window.
Villa didn’t really need to replace Jed Steer in goal - Premier League promotion is owed in some part to his performances in the first place - but if the chance to sign a player of the calibre of Heaton exists, then you really need to think about the opportunity cost of missing out on such a player.
The truth is that if Villa didn’t buy Heaton, someone else could’ve - a team that might then stay up because of Heaton’s abilities. Just like Burnley this past season. When Heaton was placed outside of the first team, Burnley had trouble. When he came back in, they saved themselves from the drop.
While Burnley are one of the more impressive Premier League sides - they are always seemingly ‘in the trenches’ - they have shown an ability to adapt, grow and survive. This an attribute that exists within Tom Heaton who has thrived when the going has gotten tough, time and time again. He’s an elite Premier League goalkeeper. He’s faced and dealt with a lion’s share of shots. He has kept Burnley alive and forced his way into the England team yet still there’s barely any respect for him outside of the ‘goalkeepers union.’ He’s the real deal.
He’s thirty-three years of age, and for some reason that is framed as a negative. It’s not. Villa have got a leader, and one that has dug deep within himself time and time again to prove that the impossible is actually possible. His saves speak for themselves - and there is so much ability here that it’s odd to see that Villa have paid so little for it.
Get set then, for the latest chapter of ‘Tom Heaton against the world’ - and be prepared to pick your jaw up from the floor after you’re done.