Tim Sherwood issues challenge to Manchester United target Ron Vlaar

Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood wants defender Ron Vlaar to inspire his side to Premier League safety in the closing weeks of the season, while also earning himself his dream move to Manchester United.

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Reports in the Daily Mirror confirm that Vlaar is out of contract at the end of the season, and looks unlikely to extend his stay in the Midlands. The 30-year-old has only managed 13 appearances so far this season, but is fit to return this weekend.

United boss Louis van Gaal knows Vlaar well from their time together with the Dutch national team. The defender impressed at last summer’s World Cup, but has failed to continue that form so far this season.

Villa currently sit three points clear of the drop zone after a positive run of results under their new manager. They’re two points better off than Sunderland, who are one point ahead of Burnley in the first of the relegation spots.

They face the difficult prospect of a trip to Old Trafford on Saturday, but Sherwood is confident Vlaar will produce. He said: “He needs to play between now and the end of the season to put himself back in that shop window.

“We all know what Ron Vlaar has done over the years but when people are looking to put their hand in their pocket and give him some big wages for the future, I think it is important he shows people will get value on the pitch.

“I thought he had a very good World Cup but people have short memories. You always look at what people are doing in the immediate future. I think it is important, and he will realise this, that he will have far more options – us included – if he is in the shop window.”

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