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Villa ready to avoid repeating Delph mistake by signing Clark to a new deal

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Aston Villa and Ciaran Clark are set to agree to a contract extension for the defender sometime next week.

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If there was one thing that was unambiguously and entirely wrong in the Fabian Delph debacle, it was the fact that getting the midfielder to sign a new contract was delayed long enough that he had the leverage to ask for (and receive) the now-infamous £8 million buy-out clause. Had Delph's contract been renewed earlier, that number could have been higher or altogether absent.

So it's encouraging to hear today that Ciaran Clark, whose contract is set to expire next summer, is poised to sign a new deal with Villa sometime next week. Clark is the closest thing Villa have to Delph right now: a regular first-team player who is well above average and who is set to be worthless to the club unless a new deal is penned. After languishing on the bench for seemingly forever (a move that most Villa fans, myself included, thought was good), Clark got a chance last year after a spate of injuries plagued the club.

And once he got regular time he quickly showed that he was probably the best center back at the club. And in spite of a late-season knee injury, Clark may very well be the best center back at Villa now. Micah Richards has the potential to best him, but the "Micah Richards: Center back" experiment has not been a rousing success in the preseason.

So Villa locking Clark up is absolutely great news. Hopefully it's a four- or five-year deal, but whatever it is, Clark's earned it.