EFL

Villa defender De Laet joins Melbourne City on loan

By Sports Desk September 13, 2018

Aston Villa defender Ritchie De Laet joined A-League club Melbourne City on a season-long loan. 

The two-time Belgium international, 29, reunites with City coach Warren Joyce, who worked with De Laet at Royal Antwerp and while in charge of Manchester United's reserves.

De Laet, who was part of Leicester City's Premier League-winning squad in the first half of 2015-16, has struggled for game time since joining Villa two years ago.

"Ritchie has a lot of experience at a very high level and his quality and versatility provides us with a number of options," Joyce said of De Laet, who joins City as a marquee player.

"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."

De Laet spent the second half of last campaign on loan at Royal Antwerp, the club where he started his professional career.

He is keen to reunite with Joyce as City prepare for their A-League campaign, which begins with a derby clash against Victory on October 20.

"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," De Laet said.

"I enjoyed playing under Warren earlier in my career. He's a coach that's always looking to 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."

 

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    Ernesto Valverde says he is unconcerned about Barcelona scoring only once in their last three matches in all competitions.

    Barca were held 0-0 at Lyon in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday, following their 1-0 home win against Real Valladolid and a goalless draw at Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga.

    Valverde's men are seven points clear of Atletico Madrid and a further two ahead of Real Madrid in the table despite winning only one of their previous three league matches, with the form of Luis Suarez placing the striker in the spotlight.

    Although the Uruguay international has hit 15 LaLiga goals this season, second only in the Spanish top-flight to team-mate Lionel Messi, Suarez has drawn a blank in five consecutive matches in all competitions.

    But speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Sevilla in LaLiga, Valverde is backing his misfiring front line to get back on track.

    "We had some games without finishing chances but we've been creating them and not giving chances away," Valverde told reporters. "We are looking forward to the challenge.

    "I don't know what to tell you. Sometimes results mean something as there are difficulties but it depends how you play. You might not win as you don't create chances, or you might dominate and not take your chances. Against Lyon we were creating chances but didn't convert them into goals.

    "If we keep creating chances then the goals will come. Statistics can help us analyse things but they can lie. Looking at the last 15 games shows a different pattern. Sometimes you need to look at a more global scale to see what they mean rather than a shorter scale, but we have to win [against Sevilla] and that's all that matters.

    "That's what being a player at a club like this is all about, sometimes you'll be the focus. This time it's the striker but it's a curious thing with Luis. The spotlight might be on him at the moment but at the start of the season he had a similar period, then people said nothing when he started scoring regularly.

    "Overall he has scored a lot of goals and I think he is the fifth highest goalscorer in the club's history. In the last two games he has created good chances and had those chances himself. He's been scoring all his life and will do it again. We need patience with him and we have that as he is a great player. We have every confidence in him."

    Saturday's game comes ahead of back-to-back Clasico clashes against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, Barca going to the capital for the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final – which is locked at 1-1 – before visiting again four days later in the league.

    "Don't forget tomorrow's game is a very important one," Valverde added. "We are playing against a very tough opponent, especially at home.

    "There are other games to think about but we have to put Sevilla behind us first. We aim to increase our lead and give the teams trying to catch us one fewer.

    "Nothing is decided now or next week. Things need to be decided and there are other teams, Atletico Madrid, who can still pick up points and are in the fight. We don't worry about other teams but what we can do, play our game tomorrow, then we will play at the Bernabeu.

    "We know full well they are two important games, and for our fans and everybody. Clasicos are important. But tomorrow will be very difficult and we know what is at stake. We were six points ahead of Madrid, now it is nine and seven from Atletico. We want it to be the same.

    "But although the Clasico is on the horizon we need to keep our focus on what we have straight ahead."

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