Ever since Steven Gerrard’s appointment as Aston Villa boss back in November, it has seemingly been a case of when and not if his former Rangers captain James Tavernier will be joining him at the Premier League outfit.
Prior to, during and since the Liverpool legend’s stint at Ibrox, the attacking full-back has remained an outstanding and talismanic presence for the Old Firm giants, with it unsurprising that the 30-year-old is courting attention from clubs south of the border.
According to journalist Dean Jones (via GiveMeSport), the prolific defender is a player that Gerrard and co are believed to be ‘looking at’ ahead of the summer, with replacing Tyrone Mings as captain potentially on the agenda.
The Villa boss recently suggested that a change with regards to the armband could happen at the end of the season, while he also dropped a major hint that it could well be Tavernier that is the man to fill the void.
As quoted by The Daily Mail, the 41-year-old said of the captaincy that: “I still won’t rule out the option of someone coming in, who I know, who is also capable of being in the running”.
Reading between the lines – and amid all the speculation – it wouldn’t be surprising if he is in fact referring to the current Gers ace, with the Englishman potentially the ideal leader that the current dressing room is lacking.
Although Dean Smith’s successor did suggest that Mings “is in with a really good shout” of remaining as captain moving forward, the 17-cap international’s poor form of late has perhaps dented his chances, with pundit Danny Mills recently suggesting that he’s “not convinced” by the 29-year-old and that the club need to secure a quality replacement in order to reach that “next level”.
Not only has Tavernier led from the front with distinction for the reigning Scottish champions since being handed the captaincy on a permanent basis by Gerrard in 2019, he has also caught the eye with his string of impressive displays both domestically and in Europe.
Since joining the club in 2015, the former Wigan Athletic man has a staggering goal contributions record for the Glasgow outfit, having scored 80 goals and provided 108 assists in 340 games across all competitions.
He was particularly instrumental in ending Celtic’s nine-year title dominance last season – recording 21 goals and assists in the SPL – while the current campaign has seen him impress on the continental stage, helping drag Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side to the Europa League semi-finals.
That surge to the last four has seen the £6.3m-rated man chip in with six goals and two assists in just 11 appearances, with all of those strikes having come during the knockout stages, including three goals across the two legs against Borussia Dortmund in the play-off round.
Such form – which has seen him dubbed “ridiculous” by pundit Alan Hutton – has only enhanced the links to Villa Park, with the top-flight club potentially in need of a new right-sided player, particularly with Poland international Matt Cash the only current option at right-back.
Gerrard will be hoping that the man he once dubbed “unstoppable” can arrive this summer to give both the club and the current squad a lift, with both Tavernier’s goals and leadership qualities making him an ideal acquisition.