Aston Villa captain Fabian Delph has completed a remarkable about-turn and signed for Manchester City. In a statement just issued on the club website, Aston Villa said:
“Aston Villa can confirm that Fabian Delph has exercised the release clause in his contract and will join Manchester City.
“We’d like to wish him success in his future career.”
Only six days ago, Delph ruled out a move and committed himself to Villa after several days of speculation that he was about to move to the Etihad Stadium in an £8million deal.
Delph, who did not fly out for Villa’s pre-season training camp in Portugal as his wife is pregnant, will be left to explain his sudden change of heart less than a week after issuing a strong statement via Villa’s website accompanied by a picture of him pointing to his captain’s armband.
“I’m aware there has been intense media speculation surrounding my future in the last 24 hours and I want to set the record straight,” Delph said last week.
“I’m not leaving. I’m staying at the football club and I can’t wait for the start of the season and captaining this great football club.”
Delph signed a new Villa contract earlier this year with his previous deal having been due to expire this summer, but the deal is understood to include a release clause which City are willing to meet.
The 25-year-old is on Manuel Pellegrini’s radar as City are keen to boost their home-grown quota following the loss of James Milner to Liverpool and Frank Lampard to New York City.
City made a huge splash earlier this week with a £49million deal for Raheem Sterling, who has now flown to Australia to join up with their pre-season tour.
Sterling took part in his first City training session on Friday and Manuel Pellegrini thinks the England forward can make a big difference for City.
“I think that Raheem can play in different positions – he can play as a forward because he has a lot of speed or he can play also on the wing,” Pellegrini said on the club’s website.
“He’s a very young player so he has a lot of things to improve. I think it’s important for him to have a new challenge in our team where he will play with great players which will improve his game. He will also improve us as a team.
“I think that Raheem has already demonstrated what he can do as a player at Liverpool but he’s just 20 years old so he has a lot of things to improve.
“It will depend how he works over the next few years but I am sure he will be very important in our team, especially for his speed.”
Pellegrini said Sterling will sit out Saturday’s match against sister club Melbourne City after his late arrival, but he will feature soon with matches against Roma and Real Madrid to follow during the tour.
The size of the fee City ended up paying for Sterling – almost twice their original offer earlier in the summer – raised eyebrows, but Pellegrini said it was a reflection of the market.
“We must continue to have a competitive team,” he said.
“I always say there are four or five important teams, so if you don’t improve every year it’s very difficult.
“The price is so difficult to see – it depends on the performance of the player in the next years. Every time you need a player the price is very high – not just for City, but for every team.
“The price is not the most important thing – the most important thing is to choose the player you need.”