Aston Villa defender Ritchie De Laet has agreed to join Melbourne City on a season-long loan, as reported by Birmingham Live.
The 29-year-old has cut a frustrated figure during his time at Villa Park and has found first-team opportunities limited despite the club’s defensive fragilites.
Melbourne manager Warren Joyce worked with De Laet during spells with Royal Antwerp and Manchester United, meaning they will link up for a third time in Australia.
The Belgian joined Villa in August 2016 and was considered a coup having achieved promotion from the Championship with both Leicester City and Middlesbrough. His time in the Midlands, however, has been forgettable. Injuries and competition for places have left De Laet sidelined for prolonged periods and he will be hoping to feature more regularly in the A-League.
The defender hailed the club’s attractive style of football and paid tribute to Joyce after the move to Melbourne was confirmed.
“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.
I enjoyed playing under Warren earlier in my career. He’s a coach that’s always looking to to help improve players and demands hard work.”
This becomes De Laet’s second loan move away from the club after a stint with Royal Antwerp during the second-half of the 2017/18 campaign. It is also the second season in succession that Villa have sent a player to Australia and Melbourne City – striker Ross McCormack heading out there last term.