In an almost unprecedented move, Fabian Delph rejected the advances of Manchester City this week to remain at Aston Villa. That’s despite the two-time Premier League champions matching his buyout clause and offering a bumper contract, Delph stays to play regular football with the team he’s grown with.
At the initial news that he was due to have a medical with the Sky Blues, even I started thinking about the same old cliches about others that have made similar moves to the same club. Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, Adam Johnson and to some extent James Milner all moved to the Etihad believing that it would be a big step in their careers as first-team starters and national team main-stays.
However, it never really worked out for any of them as they might have hoped.
Rodwell and Sinclair never really broke into the side, Johnson was always going to be an impact player and whilst Milner had the most success, he was the most frustrated after performing well yet still not earning a regular spot in the starting eleven. All have now moved on and while it’s also clear that some have never reached the heights expected, most of them had their careers stunted at Manchester City.
That is not to say that this article is just to attack the methods of the blue side of Manchester, other than Milner there weren’t signs that the others were quite at the level required at the club. The rules on home-grown talent also force Manchester City into a corner, buying English players for the sake of filling quotas and depriving other teams of good starters or even key players.
They are also caught in a middle ground between their recent success and their own academy catching up to them. Having to pay a premium for strong English talent, like they have with Raheem Sterling, is their only real way to move forward with the home-grown status whilst they wait for their impressive academy to produce quality products.
That being said, it was still very tough for Delph to not only turn down the money and potential silverware but also admit to himself that at his current level, he won’t be getting the game time that he needs. It’s sometimes difficult for a player to remove themselves like that and have real foresight, especially an international and it’s incredibly refreshing.
He’s staying loyal to Villa and it’s great to see, many other young English players should follow his example. Get reassurances at your new club that you’ll be played, stay that year longer to grow in a smaller side and then allow your progression when you feel necessary.
It’s moves like this that will improve the quality of the national side in the future, rather than harshly sticking to rules that don’t end up benefiting anyone.