The transfer window is a mere 15 days old, yet we have already seen several truly sensational moves. The likes of Raheem Sterling, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin top the bill of movers so far, but perhaps the most underrated signing of the window is a player who has decided to remain at his current club.
Centre-half Scott Dann, 28, is a real footballing success story, having progressed through every professional league in England.
Following a successful first full season at Premier League Crystal Palace, the defender has signed a new five-year contract despite rumoured interest from Everton - a sign perhaps of Palace’s heightened ambitions.
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The 6′5″ scouser incorporates the old school defensive attributes of strength, power, commitment and heading durability with the traits that are expected of a modern day centre-half.
An accomplished passer of the ball, Dann is also comfortable in possession, agile and most importantly, a natural leader having captained several of his clubs.
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Rise to stardom
Having developed these skills during spells at Walsall, Coventry City, Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers, it is fair to say that Dann has had a gradual, yet impressive rise to the top.
A League Two title winner at Walsall, Dann’s classy displays alerted the attention of Coventry manager Iain Dowie, who took both Dann and his teammate Danny Fox - formerly of Burnley, Celtic and Southampton - to Walsall’s West Midland rivals.
More of the same consistent performances allowed Dann to further his career with Premier League Birmingham City and subsequently Blackburn Rovers. In the past he has been linked with the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, but the big money move has strangely never materialised.
Everton reportedly made an £8 million bid for Dann, seen by some on Merseyside as a long term replacement to the ageing Phil Jagielka. A boyhood Liverpool fan, for me Dann possesses the ability to step up another level.
Potential England international?
Whether or not the opportunity of European football arises, there is another standard of football that Dann should have already been exposed to - the international stage. A top draw English centre-half is a rarity these days, gone are the times when recognised players such as Jamie Carragher struggled to get in the England team.
The supposed heirs to the thrones of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand - Phil Jones and Chris Smalling - continue to underperform when given their chance for England and Manchester United. They both have ability, but neither of them are able to put together a string of confident performances.
There is an inability to manage the pressures of playing for the biggest club in England when it comes to Smalling and Jones, which is evident in their frantic displays at centre half - a stark contrast to the composed nature of Dann’s game.
Phil Jagielka has exceeded the expectations many had for his career - probably even his own - but the Everton man who will be 33 in August, just isn’t cut out for International football anymore. His centre-half partner John Stones is undeniably an exciting talent and future England starter, but should be allowed to develop before being thrown in at the deep end of international football.
Gary Cahill comparisons
Parallels can be drawn between the career’s of Dann and the undisputed holder of one of the England centre-half berths, Gary Cahill. Cahill was deemed surplus to requirements at Villa Park in 2008 and thus moved to Bolton Wanderers to build on what had been a promising career.
One hundred and thirty games later and he was the subject of a £7 million move to Chelsea, like Dann he was a creditable, solid centre-half, but not necessarily top four, Champions League or England quality - although he did make his England debut prior to the Chelsea move. He has since gone on to become all of those things and a Champions League winner, no less.
With this in mind Dann needs to be given a chance by Roy Hodgson, frankly he has been overlooked for far too long. Given Hodgson’s questionable selections of late, Dann might have to rely on impressing Gary Neville on Monday Night Football again, as he did in Crystal Palace’s 2-1 win over Manchester City in April.
For now at least, he will have to be content with being one of the best central defenders in the Premier League - as Crystal Palace fans will attest to.
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