On Monday afternoon, Cardiff City FC announced that midfielder Aron Gunnarsson has signed a new deal taking him up until the end of the 2019 season.
The move has been met with mixed reactions, with some claiming that the Bluebirds should’ve aimed higher. At VFTN Towers, we’re well on board with this move, though.
Here’s the team’s seven takeaways from Gunnarsson’s contract renewal.
I was ecstatic when I heard that Hoilett, Bennett and Morrison were renewing their contracts, but for me, there was always one player I particularly hoped would join the contract extension club.
I was cheering on with the masses in front of the dug-out in the final game of the season against Reading. Our message was clear, “we want you to stay, we want you to stay, Aron Gunnarsson, we want you to stay!”
For me, Gunnar’s leadership and passion is what makes this contract renewal so important for us as a Club. He’s been in the Premier League before, he has a real connection with the fans and he’s never been far away from a vital goal.
He was unfortunate through injury last season. However, that didn’t stop him standing up when it counted and I’ll never forget his goal against Nottingham Forest. It was at a time where we really needed the ball to hit the back of the net and he answered our calls. Gunnar’s new deal alongside others, is the perfect momentum for the Club as we go into the Premier League.
Beth Phillips (@bethphill_)
His Premier League experience
Looking at this current Cardiff City squad, there aren’t too many who have experienced Premier League. Joe Ralls was merely a bit part player the last time we were with the big boys and it’s been a while since Junior Hoilett has played in the Premier League.
Aron Gunnarsson was a key component of our Premier League side last time round and knows just how it feels to be relegated from the big time. His experience will be an absolutely crucial component to Cardiff’s midfield.
There’s also his experience of playing at the highest level, in the Euro’s in 2016 and at this summer’s World Cup.
Scott Salter (@Scottsltr)
His long throw
There was a time when Aron’s injuries prevented him from being able sling it long as regularly or as effectively as he liked. But over the past few seasons, he has been back at it. His long throws are invaluable to a side who do score goals from set pieces. Any throw in from 35 yards to the opposing goal becomes a de facto corner and gives us a chance of scoring that other teams don’t have. Gunnar taking them also frees up Sean Morrison to get himself into the box and head it home.
Premier League defences aren’t necessarily used to the sheer agriculture nature of a long throw and they’ve been lulled into a false sense of security since Delap quit Stoke. Gunnar’s long throws could mean another 5-10 goals – and a priceless number of points.
His beard and tatts
Every club needs players with the required number of tattoos – a sleeve here, a hand tattoo there. But Gunnar takes it to the next level with his incredible back piece. He’s a warrior and his tattoos and beard give him that warrior aesthetic. It’s hard to imagine the fresh faced Aron of 2011, full head of hair, barely any fluff on his face. He’s now one hard looking guy and it matches up with his committed playing style. Can you imagine Ozil going in for a 50/50 with Gunnar? Me neither. And it’s 99% because of how hard he looks.
His big goals
Goals and Gunnarsson aren’t two words that go together too often, but when they do they’re often big goals. He scored our first Premier League goal in the 3-2 win over Manchester City, remember.
There’s also the small matter of that goal against Nottingham Forest this season, when he did some insane karate move and hung in the air for a good 17 minutes before volleying home the winner.
Scott Salter (@Scottsltr)
This is also a financially risk-free deal for City. Replacing Gunnarsson would have been a headache for the board as well as Neil Warnock. Premier League sides, thanks to the sheer amount of money in the league, are largely made to pay inflated transfer fees, agent fees and wages, all of which has been avoided for now.
And, although I’m sure Gunnarsson will be on a hefty wage by City’s standards, the fact that this is a one-year contract means there would be no financial hangover if the worst was to happen and the club went down, where the Icelandic captain would be almost certain to move on.
His next move
Gunnar is hedging his bets and more than likely has no intention of playing Championship football in 2019-20 should City go down. In fact he may have no intention of playing in the UK at that point.
Football on these shores, and especially the Championship, is a grind. Gunnar is no doubt looking ahead to the UEFA Nations League/Euro 2020 and potentially the 2022 World Cup, fully aware that the rigours of English football are not necessarily conducive to a long international career.
There’s a very good chance this is his final season in Cardiff, no matter where the club finishes in the Premier League.
Ben Isaacs (@tweetsfromben)
Header image credit: Cardiff City FC Twitter