The transfer merry go round continues as the season approaches and, just a week before the Hull game, Nathan Baker has moved to Bristol City on a permanent deal (believed to be in the region of £4 million). This has been met with quite a lot of shock from the Villa faithful. I certainly didn’t see this coming, as Baker had established himself in the first team towards the end of last season.
Looking at our Summer, though, it was clear that one centre half had to go. The additions of veterans John Terry and Chris Samba gave Villa six centre backs who would want some sort of first team involvement this year. I think a lot of fans expected, or still expect, Tommy Elphick or/and Micah Richards to depart but Baker is the man to go, back to Bristol City where he spent a season on loan during the 2015-2016 season.
I think a lot of fans are angry about this because he is a good asset to let go. He wasn’t our best centre half, but he was a solid option whose work ethic on the pitch was never in question. He had been with us since he was 13, and so it is always sad to see someone who worked their way into the first team go permanently. Baker seemed to be one of the ‘nice guys’ and aside from that always had a place in our squad, even if he did not make the starting eleven each week.
In over 100 games for Villa, his one goal was memorable, a superbly placed header to give us the lead against a very good Brighton side on Sky Sports. I, for one, will always remember Baker fondly. I do genuinely wish him all the best at Bristol City and I expect him to thrive there and play every week. He deserves that and he simply could not get that at Villa Park this season.
In terms of Villa, I would also tell our fans not to panic or lash out at the board after this transfer. Looking at it objectively, it does make a lot of sense. It’s definitely in the best interests of the player and our recent acquisition Chris Samba should do well in the Championship as Baker’s replacement. We’re not short of depth this year in any position, least of all centre back, and I am happy with our business this Summer ahead of our long awaited season opener.
Thank you Nathan Baker, you were a credit to the club and well loved by the fanbase. You were quietly consistent and developed very well at Villa, always a loyal servant to the club. Best of luck for the rest of your career and beyond.