Aston Villa have agreed an £8,000,000 initial fee for 33-year-old Tom Heaton of Burnley, which could be the coup of the window for Dean Smith.
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Thanks to every Aston Villa fan’s favourite Telegraph journalist John Percy, many fans awoke this morning to the news that Aston Villa have agreed an £8,000,000 fee with £500,000 in add-ons, for 33-year-old England international and Burnley club captain Tom Heaton.
The stopper – who managed nineteen appearances for the clarets last season after recovering from successful surgery on a shoulder injury that he sustained in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in 2017 – managed some key performances during Burnley’s run in last season and helped the club avoid relegation.
The goalkeeper is a true leader at the back, something Aston Villa have been lacking in goal since the departure of Sam Johnstone after the club’s Play-Off Final defeat in 2018 at the hands of Fulham, and is the club captain of Burnley – showing his importance in a defensive set-up that receives plaudits despite Burnley’s precarious league positioning.
After just a small search over on Twitter and Burnley’s hashtag ‘#twitterclarets’ – it’s safe to say that the fans from Turf Moor aren’t happy about the fee being agreed for Heaton.
One fan expressed:
“Heaton going to (Aston) Villa easily hands them (an extra) nine points and then some.
The amount of wins we’ve had in the Premier League because of him is crazy.
Seems ridiculous to let him go to a potential relegation rival.”
Some fans will be wary of Tom Heaton’s age, but at 33-years-old, the England deputy is in the prime of his goalkeeping career and has, injuries permitting, another five or so years left where he may be able to perform at the top level. Don’t forget that Aston Villa signed Brad Friedel at the age of 37, who was an excellent serviceman for the Villans.
Taking a look at some of the statistics behind Heaton last season, the goalkeeper is relatively adept in most areas. We’ve compared the stats of the expected arrival with Jed Steer, and Brighton & Hove Albion’s Matthew Ryan.
During Jed Steer’s 2018-19 season, which saw him play seven times for Charlton Athletic and 19 times for Aston Villa, the current number one conceded 23 goals. Compare this to Heaton, who played 19 times for Burnley last season and let in 27 goals. At face value it begs the question of why Jed Steer is being replaced, but statistics at face value very rarely provide any kind of context.
Taking a look at the games that Heaton performed in, which include losses against Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool, but also wins against Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves, it’s easy to see that the quality of opposition between Jed and Tom last season was much, much higher.
For Heaton to have a only a relatively higher ‘xG against’ metric that Jed despite the gulf in leagues is an outstanding sign, as well as the number of saves that the Burnley stopper makes per game, which is almost double that of Steer.
Taking a look at Tom Heaton’s performances against the upper echelon of the Premier League last season shows just what an asset the goalkeeper can be.
In Burnley’s 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur, the away side had five out of six potential goal-scoring opportunities saved by Heaton as the clarets picked up an unexpected three points. In their 2-2 draw away at Chelsea, the London club had nine potential goal-scoring opportunities, seven of which were saved by Heaton, securing Burnley a hard-fought point on the road. In a bottom-half scrap against Bournemouth, Heaton saved three of four shots on goal that saw Burnley return to Lancashire as 3-1 victors rather than with a 4-3 or 3-3 result.
Heaton is a leader in the dressing room, adept at performing against clubs regardless of their level in the Premier League, and a leader on the pitch, something that Aston Villa didn’t have behind their defence for the entirety of last season.