Shay Given is one of the best goalkeepers in the history of the Premier League. He spent the majority of his career with Newcastle United, who reached great heights in terms of domestic and international success. After internal turmoil struck the Toon, he left in February 2008 to join Manchester City where he did well in his first season. However, due to the rise of long-term goalie Joe Hart, Given has been shown the bench over the last season where he only made four starts.
Clearly Manchester City have little use for Given after choosing the younger Hart. Given doesn’t deserve to be a rarely used back-up especially in a league where numerous teams could use a goalkeeper of his skill and experience. At age 35, Given may still have a few years left in him as many elite keepers have played up until their early 40’s.
In the past year, Given’s lack of activity has obviously made him feel very unsettled at Eastlands. He has been linked to Celtic and especially to Arsenal who have had trouble trying to replace Jens Lehmann. However, the new team that is reportedly after the Irishman is Aston Villa under the newly appointed Alex McLeish. Supposedly, McLeish valued the keeper at £3 million but Manchester City is sticking with their original price of 5 million euros.
In order to win support, the often-criticized Scot needs to make improvements to the roster for the upcoming season. Brad Friedel, the reliable American that Villa has depended on since 2008, has departed on a Bosman free transfer to Spurs and Villa needs to find a replacement. Right now, all they have are reserves Brad Guzan and Andy Marshall who are both too inexperienced to become the starting keeper.
Aston Villa have been linked with a couple of other candidates besides Given which include Birmingham City’s Ben Foster and Wigan’s Ali-al Habsi. However, al Habsi is expected to permanently sign with the Latics while Foster is less experienced and composed in the net compared to a veteran like Given.
For Shay Given, the move is a no-brainer. The Irish stopper is reportedly desperate enough to cut his weekly wages of 85,000 euros so he can finally get back into the starting eleven with another club. According to the Daily Mail, Given put down an offer from West Brom who are looking for a replacement after Scott Carson left for the Turkish club Bursaspor. Given would likely have little trouble fitting in with another club who desperately need to fill holes in a roster that has seen many departures. With McLeish’s known defensive tactics, Given would be an essential factor keeping Villa in matches through quality saves.
After all the great feats of Shay Given’s career for both Newcastle and Ireland, he doesn’t deserve to close out his career warming the bench. Therefore, a move to Aston Villa would be ideal for both him and the club.