Speaking on the latest episode of The Athletic’s 1874 podcast (March 26), former Aston Villa defender Martin Laursen has suggested that the club was right to sell Gary Cahill to Bolton Wanderers in 2008, despite the fine career he has gone on to have.
Well, the centre-back made just 31 appearances for Villa before Martin O’Neill decided to move him on from Villa Park 12 years ago, and it of course looks like a bad decision given what the now 34-year-old has gone on to achieve.
Asked whether he thought Cahill would go on to have the career that he did, Laursen said (26:05): “No, not really. He was a young player when I was there, but it was not like ‘Wow, he will go to Chelsea and have a great career there or he will go to play with the national team’.
“No, you couldn’t say that so I would say you can’t blame anyone for letting him go because he was not finding space to play for Aston Villa. I don’t think he was that good when he played for us when I was there.”
What you have to remember is that this was a Villa who finished sixth in the Premier League standings during the 2007/08 campaign, so it was no surprise that they had big ambitions under O’Neill.
If the Northern Irishman didn’t see a player who hadn’t really impressed for the first team playing a part in that, it was no surprise that he was let go.
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The fact that he went on to captain Chelsea, win the Premier League title twice and play 61 times for England has surprised even Laursen, so it shows that the Crystal Palace defender has clearly worked on his game and improved.
Perhaps given more of a chance at Villa he could have done that, but ultimately it wasn’t to be.
What is clear is that the Midlands outfit could do with someone like him at the heart of their defence right now, with Dean Smith’s men in the relegation zone having conceded more goals (56) than any other Premier League team in 2019/20.
Meanwhile, only Liverpool, Leicester, Man City, Sheffield United and Man United have conceded fewer goals than Cahill’s Palace (32), with the Englishman clearly having a big impact having joined on a free last summer.
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