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Ex-Manchester United defender De Laet poised to sign for Melbourne City

Ritchie De Laet in action for Aston Villa Source: Action Plus

Former Manchester United fringe defender Ritchie De Laet has been linked with Melbourne City in a move that would reunite the Belgian with coach Warren Joyce.

The pair first worked together in 2006 when the much-traveled De Laet, now 29, was a rookie at Royal Antwerp when Joyce was head coach.
 
Their paths crossed again three years later when De Laet landed a shock move to Old Trafford from Stoke, thanks to the recommendation of then United under-21 coach Joyce.
 
De Laet was part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad for three seasons - making six appearances as a stand-in for the unsurpassable Gary Neville at right back - before leaving for Leicester City in 2012.
 
He won promotion with the Foxes playing as a right-back but can also be deployed as a wingback or even in defensive midfield roles, as either a number six or eight.
 
Capped twice by Belgium, De Laet is currently on the books of Aston Villa - whom he joined from Leicester in 2016.
 
But he has barely featured under coach Steve Bruce - much like former City loanee Ross McCormack - and spent the second half of last season back where it all began, on loan at Royal Antwerp.
 
However a switch to City - most likely on loan - is looking increasingly likely for De Laet, whose contract expires in mid-2019.
 
De Laet had the distinction of wining promotion from the Championship with Middlesbrough before returning to parent club Leicester to collect a Premier League winner’s medal, all on the same day 28 months ago.
 
He played 12 games in the Foxes’ momentous season before being loaned to the Riverside.
 
Should he sign for City, his arrival would fill the club’s fifth visa spot.
 
Melbourne City declined to comment when contacted by The World Game.