Marquee recruit: Melbourne City sign ex-Premier League defender

Melbourne City's Hyundai A-League title hopes have been given a major boost with the club confirming the signing of ex-Manchester United defender and Belgium international Ritchie De Laet.

The 29-year-old joins City on a season-long loan deal from Aston Villa and will reunite with coach Warren Joyce with whom he has worked with at United and also Royal Antwerp in Belgium.

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 “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,” said De Laet.

“I enjoyed playing under Warren earlier in my career. He’s a coach that’s always looking 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.”

While he began his career in his hometown of Antwerp, De Laet has played most of his career in England.

As well as a short stint at Manchester United, he also has a 2016 Premier League winner's medal for his stint at Leicester City, while he's also played for clubs like Middlesbrough, Norwich City and Villa.

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De Laet was an integral part of the Leicester City team that won the Championship title in 2013- 14, while he made 26 appearances - and scored two goals - the following season in the EPL, including their 5-3 win over former club United.

“Ritchie has a lot of experience at a very high level and his quality and versatility provides us with a number of options,” said Joyce.

“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 is scheduled to begin training with his new teammates at City Football Academy immediately.

City’s next match is on Wednesday night in the FFA Cup 2018 Quarter Finals against Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park.

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