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Mercato Madness: Napoli in for Dutch defender?

According to reports circulating between Italy and England, Napoli are getting in to the bidding for Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar.

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The rumor mill spins and spins, and today out pops another Napoli transfer rumor: on the heels of closing in on two deals already for January, various reports in England and Italy have the partenopei hard on the trail of a third player.

That player is Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar, captain of his club side and heavily involved in international play for the Netherlands in recent years. He's been a minor revelation since moving to England from Dutch side Feyenoord two and a half years ago, and now with his contract running down, Napoli are among the teams interested in acquiring his services.

Vlaar is a good-though-not-great defender, known more for his physical, stand-up play than his ability against trickier players. That's something Napoli could use at times, though, as well as Vlaar's discipline and ability to organize his back line. He could likely step in to the starting lineup ahead of Raul Albiol, or at worst give Napoli a much better option for a third center back than Henrique Buss.

Vlaar's contract expires at the end of this season, and it's not completely clear right now if Napoli's interest is in a cut-rate deal in January, or if they want to sign him to a pre-contract deal to start preparing for next summer's transfer market. They won't be alone in their interest in signing Vlaar, though; Manchester United and Arsenal are both interested in bringing the Dutch defender in as well. While Napoli could probably offer Vlaar more playing time if they intend to partner him with Koulibaly, he could make more money and maintain at higher profile with either or the two English clubs.

This is definitely an interesting rumor to keep an eye on. A useful player who fills a need? Sure, why not! It won't be easy to get Vlaar's signature, but Napoli should definitely make the effort if they think they can pull it off.