By Will Butcher
Aston Villa are keeping tabs on Chelsea defender Michael Hector after he enjoyed a sublime season in the German Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt, according to a report.
The Birmingham Mail claim that Aston Villa have deployed scouts to watch the 24-year-old centre-back in Germany, as he remains on a season-long loan from Premier League leaders Chelsea.
It is believed that Everton, West Ham and Sunderland are also keen on Hector after watching him star in Germany’s top tier.
Hector scored in a penalty shootout to help his side earn a place in the German Cup final on Tuesday night, as they overcame Bundesliga giants Borussia Monchengladbach.
Hector still has three years on his Chelsea contract and has ambitions of playing in the Premier League but it’s unlikely that he’d be able to force his way into the first team at Stamford Bridge.
The likes of Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Kurt Zouma and Nathan Ake all remain above the Jamaica international in the defensive rankings at Chelsea, and that could see him head out again in search of more experience.
Chelsea signed Hector back in the summer of 2015 from Reading before he was loaned immediately back to the Royals, before joining Frankfurt at the start of the 2016-17 season.
Hector has made 22 appearances in all competitions this season, keeping eight clean sheets for his loan side as they defy pre-season expectations to sit in the top half of the table.
Football Insider verdict:
Villa could do with a new central defender, as could Everton. Steve Bruce’s side currently have James Chester, Nathan Baker and Tommy Elphick available to them, but the latter has struggled to gain any kind of consistent form since his move to Villa Park from Premier League outfit Bournemouth. Similarly at Goodison Park, Ronald Koeman is yet to replace the loss of John Stones to Man City, with only Ashley Williams, Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori as his first-choice options. Williams and Jagielka are both ageing while some reports claim Funes Mori could be set to jump ship, and that will make a central defender a priority on Merseyside. Bringing in Hector, who has shown plenty of promise, would prove a decent buy for either side but Hector would find first-team chances easier to find in the Midlands, albeit at a lower level.
In other Aston Villa transfer news, this Championship midfielder is most likely player to join Bruce’s side.