Steven Gerrard had been in the market for a centre-back since new signing Diego Carlos ruptured his Achilles tendon in the 2-1 win over Everton earlier in the season but ended up opting for Jan Bednarek as the Southampton joined on loan late in the day.
Dawson was one alternative on Johan Lange’s list, and he could well have been a better addition for the Midlands club. The 32-year-old was reportedly keen on a move away from the London Stadium to move closer to his family, but a deal with Villa could not be done before the deadline.
The former Rochdale man was in superb form for the Hammers last season, earning a place in the Europa League team of the season after he helped David Moyes’ side to the semi-finals.
He earned the praise of former captain Mark Noble following his performances against Lyon in the quarter-finals.
He said: “Big Daws, who has been so reliable for us and been fantastic. He was incredible in the first leg and even better tonight so that is a big statement for him.”
He also made 34 appearances in the Premier League, contributing two goals and two assists, so he could have been a very solid option for Gerrard as cover for the injured Carlos.
Coincidentally, according to FbRef, the former Sevilla man is the most similar player to Dawson in terms of play style, which suggests that he could have been the ideal man to step in as Carlos’ replacement.
Last season saw the two players register very similar numbers in terms of expected goals per 90 minutes (0.09 vs 0.08), pressures (199 vs 202) and progressive carries (48 vs 52).
That demonstrates that not only are they a threat in the opposition penalty area, but they hound the opposition with similar regularity and crucially for a modern-day centre-back, they can bring the ball out of defence at a similar rate too. All of those qualities will have been vital for Gerrard but he will now have to hope the Bednarek can rise to the task in those areas instead.
Dawson is regarded for being dominant in the air, evidenced by his impressive 45 career goals, but he is also more than capable in possession. As a result, he may well have handed the Villans a more reliable pair of hands at the back than the Saints loanee.
Therefore, missing out on Dawson could prove to be a big blow for Gerrard, as considering their less than impressive start to the season, especially since Carlos’ injury, he needed a player of that ilk and experience in his backline.