Melbourne City FC signs defender Ritchie De Laet

Melbourne City FC Head Coach Warren Joyce has been reunited with former English Premier League (EPL) defender and midfielder, Richie De Laet, as the Belgian becomes the Club’s latest signing ahead of the 2018-19 A-League season.

De Laet joins City on a season-long loan deal from English Championship side, Aston Villa, taking the Club’s final marquee player position.

With a total of 47 EPL appearances for Manchester United, Norwich City and Leicester City, in addition to two appearances for the Belgium national side, and 128 appearances in the English Championship, De Laet brings more experience to a youthful City squad.

“Ritchie has a lot of experience at a very high level and his quality and versatility provides us with a number of options” said Head Coach, Warren Joyce.

“I know Ritchie well having coached him before during my time in England and Belgium. He can play as a defender or across the midfield with quality on the ball to help link defence and attack.”

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Born in Antwerp and beginning his career at Belgian top-flight side, Royal Antwerp, De Laet has played most of his career in England, including under Joyce while the City head coach was in charge of Manchester United’s reserves.

De Laet’s career includes stints at some of England’s top clubs, including winning a 2016 Premier League winners medal from Leicester on the same day as a winning Championship runner’s-up medal from Middlesbrough following a mid-season loan move.

He was also an integral part of the Leicester City team that won the Championship title in the 2013- 14 season and secured the club’s return to the Premier League in 2014, making 36 appearances and scoring two goals. The following season in the EPL, De Laet earned 26 appearances including Leicester’s thumping 5-3 win over former club, Manchester United, playing alongside Jamie Vardy, Esteban Cambiasso and Riyad Mahrez.

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 “I’m excited to join a club like Melbourne City with big ambitions, that plays attractive football and has a very strong coaching group, led by a coach I know well, Warren Joyce,” said De Laet.

“I enjoyed playing under Warren earlier in my career. He’s a coach that’s always looking help improve players and demands hard work.

“I’m looking forward to getting out in front of the fans and helping contribute to the team this year.”

De Laet is scheduled to begin training at City Football Academy immediately, joining up with the rest of a buoyant City squad following their impressive mid-week FFA Cup win against Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park.

City’s next match is in the Quarter Final of the FFA Cup when Western Sydney Wanderers visit Melbourne on Wednesday 19 September with tickets available via Ticketek – members go free