Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

Happy days for Manuel Pellegrini as Fabian Delph joins Raheem Sterling in Manchester City’s ranks

English midfielder to move to Etihad.
Aston Villa player Fabian Delph, left, is moving to Manchester City. Getty Images
Aston Villa player Fabian Delph, left, is moving to Manchester City. Getty Images

Fabian Delph has signed a five-year deal with Manchester City after performing a U-turn on his initial decision to stay at Aston Villa.

The England midfielder completed a medical at City on Friday and is set to fly to Australia to join his new teammates on their pre-season tour.

The 25 year old had rejected City’s advances last weekend when he issued a statement insisting: “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 made 128 appearances for Villa, scoring eight goals, and received the first of his six England caps against Norway in September 2014.

City mamager Manuel Pellegrini was delighted with the signing, telling City’s official website: “Fabian Delph is an excellent player and I am looking forward to working with him.

“He has made a huge impact in recent seasons at Aston Villa and is now one of the brightest young midfielders in the Premier League.

“Fabian has tremendous skill and energy, and the fact that he has become a regular member of the England squad is further evidence of his progress over the past few seasons. At just 25 years old, he still has his best years ahead of him.”

Delph’s change of heart will dismay Villa, after he was handed the captain’s armband by manager Tim Sherwood following a consistent set of performances earlier this year.

Assistant manager Ray Wilkins had hailed Delph’s “fantastic” decision to apparently commit his future to the club last week.

Wilkins had said: “He could have gone to Manchester City for a lot of money but he wants 700 games and a good career. It’s rare in football to see that happen - I thought it was fantastic.”

And Delph is also facing a furious backlash from the Villa side with former striker Stan Collymore branding the player “an absolute disgrace” for performing such a quick U-turn on his public loyalty pledge.

Speaking before the deal was officially confirmed, Collymore told talkSport’s Drive programme: “He said twice now that he wants to stay at the club - nobody put a gun to his head.

“He said twice that he believes Villa is a great club that he wants to stay at... if he signs for Manchester City or any other club in the next few days then he’s an absolute disgrace.”

STERLING’S SPEED AND CITY’S EXPERIENCED TEAM WILL BE OF MUTUAL HELP

Pellegrini also expressed his delight at Raheem Sterling’s arrival earlier, saying his speed and versatility hold the key to him making a success of his big-money move to City.

Sterling joined his new teammates in his first City training session yesterday after flying to Australia to join their pre-season tour, and Pellegrini reckons 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 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.

“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 important in our team, especially for his speed.”

Pellegrini said Sterling will sit out today’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.

“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.”

City captain Vincent Kompany also welcomed Sterling.

“I’d rather play with him than against him,” the defender said. “He’ll fit in really well in our team. Everyone in our team is buzzing we’re getting such a good player.”

Updated: July 17, 2015 04:00 AM

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