James Chester appears not to be in West Bromwich Albion’s Head Coach Tony Pulis’ plans for next season. The 27 year old has gone from the high of Wales’ 2016 European Championship campaign (during which he started every game for the Red Dragons) to the low of being linked away from the Hawthorns with moves to Championship side Aston Villa and Premier League new boys Middlesbrough.
Chester made just 12 appearances for Pulis’ side last season, despite joining them from Hull City last summer for a reported £8 million fee. He may regret leaving Hull 12 months ago, as now the Tigers (albeit in a slight pickle) will enjoy top flight action again this season. However, now is not the time to look back for the man from Warrington, but rather the time to look forward to potential pastures new.
What Aston Villa offer James Chester:
James Chester could form the beating heart of the Aston Villa defence, and judging by their EFL Cup exit to Luton Town, they need someone like him to solidify a porous back four. Roberto di Matteo does already boast Micah Richards and Villa youth product Nathan Baker among his ranks, as well as Joleon Lescott at the time of writing. That said, it looks likely that Lescott will leave Villa Park, and that position could be well filled by James Chester. Chester has amassed over 100 Championship appearances with Hull City, being an integral part of the defence that won the Tigers promotion back to the top flight in 2013, and notably opened the scoring in the 2014 FA Cup final between Hull and Arsenal. This sort of experience could be vital for Aston Villa, and at a good age for a defender, 27, Chester could well see out his career at his next club, if he were to be successful. Aston Villa fans, in this writer’s opinion, should hope the Welsh international opts to stay in the Midlands and drop down a division for regular first team football, as he would represent a very shrewd acquisition in the Championship.
What Middlesbrough offer James Chester:
The biggest and most important thing that the Teessiders can offer James Chester and Villa cannot is Premier League football this season, and potentially beyond. I add that caveat at the end, as I, amongst others, believe Middlesbrough stand a very good chance of faring well this season and establishing themselves as a mid-table Premier League side. In Aitor Karanka, ‘Boro have an exciting young manager with huge potential, and has recruited very well, perhaps using his Spanish connections to great effect. Victor Valdes and Alvaro Negredo are the two stand out signings, and lest we not forget that Middlesbrough almost allegedly signed Neven Subotic from Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund. These signings, amongst others made this summer, add to a squad with exciting players such as Albert Adomah, Gaston Ramirez, Jordan Rhodes and Stewart Downing. Devonian George Friend acts as vice-captain and adds an assured calmness to the back four, and with Greek Dimitrios Konstantopoulos or World Cup winner Valdes in between the sticks, ‘Boro can expect to fare relatively well defensively for a newly promoted team. The lure of Premier League football at a club seemingly on the rise rather than on a slide may be too tempting for Chester to refuse.
I am not James Chester, nor in any way do I resemble a professional footballer, but if I were given the choice between these two clubs, you would see me holding up a red shirt with the Premier League symbols on the sleeves at the Riverside Stadium.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Ciaran McGrath