Liverpool join race for Ron Vlaar

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Liverpool are very much in the race for Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar and would love to beat Arsenal and Manchester United to the signing of a powerful centre-back on a free transfer next summer, according to the Express.

Vlaar has become a hot property on the strength of a string of terrific performances for Holland at the World Cup, a view strengthened by the man nicknamed 'Roncrete' in his home country being out of contract at the end of the season.

Securing the 29-year-old's long-term future is a huge priority for Villa, but the experienced defender is free to talk terms with any club he chooses in January and there are some huge teams considering a cut-price summer switch as a result.

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Clear lack of top Premier League defenders

There's no question that Vlaar has suddenly become a wanted man because of huge defensive issues among a whole host of Champions League contenders.

Man United in particular have looked very shaky at the back so far this season, although in fairness they have been plagued by injuries at centre-back in the first month of the campaign.

Vlaar would certainly bring some stability to that position and has a strong relationship with Red Devils Louis van Gaal, but there's clearly stiff competition for his signature.

Arsenal & Liverpool can't be discounted

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is also desperately short of cover in central defence and is thought to have made an enquiry for Vlaar on transfer deadline day, which was swiftly knocked back by Villa.

Wenger only has Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Calum Chambers to play in that position until January at the very least, so speculation that Vlaar is a legitimate target for the Gunners is hardly surprising.

Liverpool are perhaps in need of a defensive rethink more than either of their rivals, with no sign that significant investment in their rearguard has shored of a defence which conceded a whopping 50 Premier League goals last season.

Dejan Lovren was an expensive addition supposed to provide leadership to a defence clearly lacking just that during the title run-in last term, but a minus goal difference after five Premier League games is proof that as of yet that addition hasn't worked.

Villa remain confident they can persuade Vlaar to stay loyal and remain in the Midlands beyond this season, but it remains to be seen if Paul Lambert truly has the pulling power to keep elite Premier League teams from snatching his skipper over the next eight months.

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