As we’ve pointed out repeatedly over the last month, endless names get thrown around in January involved in rumours that often seem to make no sense. On the other hand, a few stories that are put out are indeed credible; transfers do happen in this month, even if Leeds has been quiet so far.
Several... questionable... outlets have suggested that Garry Monk is interested in bringing Delph back. We won’t link them here because... well... they’re questionable.
But what if? Let’s talk about it.
Fabian Delph has indeed struggled to make a positive impact into Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City squad this season. He has battled groin injuries, but he has only made four appearances for the Citizens, most recently, in a dominant 5-0 win against West Ham in the FA Cup earlier this month.
A lack of regular Premier League game time is frustrating for any footballer, and there’s no guarantee that when he’s “fully healthy,” he’ll factor into Pep’s plans anyway. For Delph, it would make sense if the England international would want to move elsewhere rather than staying in a Cup-only role in Manchester.
After making 44 senior appearances for Leeds from 2006-2009, Fabian made the move to Aston Villa. Then, after playing well for the Villans for 6 years (including some time back at Leeds on loan) and earning their captaincy, he made his big move to Manchester City, a move that was criticized by fans and media alike.
But since his move to City before the start of last season, he has only made 19 appearances in all competitions and seems to be an afterthought. So this brings about the question: Could Fabian Delph return to the place where he started life as a professional footballer?
I think he can, though those same questionable outlets are reporting otherwise. Here is why I’m hopeful:
Reason 1: Fabian Delph does not fit Pep Guardiola’s System.
When Pep Guardiola took on the Manchester City role, he promised to bring his “Spanish Style” to the Premier League. This is a style that has not worked well with many English footballers. As we have seen in the past with Roberto Martinez at Everton, in order to consistently win games, you need a team of your own players, able to adapt to and play your style. That is something Pep does not have.
Guardiola did not sign Delph, and he clearly does not fit his system... he is not playing. Delph does not want to play out of the back. He is a midfielder who wants to get forward quickly and one who also wants to drop back when the pressure is on. He has the ability to be a complete midfielder, but clearly not in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI.
Reason 2: Fabian Delph would love a chance to help Leeds get to the Premier League.
As we all know here at Through It All Together, Leeds have a real chance to put together a memorable promotion season. Fabian Delph rose up through our youth system and even captained the Leeds reserves. Why wouldn’t he want to see us go up?
If Garry Monk wants to seriously bolster a midfield squad that has shown to be injury-prone, then a big move for a healthy Fabian Delph would make sense. I’m sure Fabian would love to return to the Premier League as a leading man in White and with a chip on his shoulder. Having the Elland Road faithful behind him after every pass or tackle... what more could a footballer ask for?
Reason 3: Fabian Delph would be the perfect bridge between our defense and attack.
With the 4-2-3-1 formation that Garry Monk loves to play, Fabian Delph could fit alongside Liam Bridcutt or Eunan O’Kane. Not only would Fabian Delph be able to sit in front of our back four and disrupt passing lanes, but he could also go further up the field and join the attack so Liam Bridcutt can fall back and balance out the defense in case we are caught on the counter. He fits, he’s quality, and O’Kane, Ronaldo Vieira, and Kalvin Phillips could all learn a lot from playing with the experienced midfielder.
The move would help Leeds continue on their amazing run, and the infusion of top talent would instill in them added confidence, confidence that could lead to a challenge for automatic promotion and a Championship title in 2017.
I think that a move for Delph ultimately will all depend on Pep Guardiola’s willingness to let him leave. I think Garry Monk would love the idea of having Delph in his midfield. Delph’s value though is a toss-up. Manchester City bought him from Aston Villa for 8 million pounds. He has not lived up to his transfer fee at all, and we may see him go as low as the £4-6 million range if a move were to be in the works.
This move is a long-shot in the making to be sure, but I don’t think it’s one to dismiss out of hand. It could potentially happen... if Fabian Delph wants to move away from the Etihad and come throw his name in with the rest of the heroes at Elland Road in 2017. MOT