Belgian ex-EPL defender and midfielder Richie De Laet has signed for Melbourne City on a marquee loan deal for next season.
De Laet joins City from English Championship side Aston Villa as the club’s final marquee player position.
With 47 EPL appearances for Manchester United, Norwich City and Leicester City - and two appearances for the Belgium national side - as well as 128 appearances in the English Championship, De Laet brings more experience to a youthful City squad.
“Ritchie has a lot of experience at a very high level and his quality and versatility provides us with a number of options” said coach, Warren 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.”
Born in Antwerp, de Laet began his career at Royal Antwerp, but played most of his career in England, including under Joyce's coaching at Manchester United’s reserves.
De Laet’s career includes stints at some of England’s top clubs, including winning a 2016 Premier League winner's medal from Leicester on the same day as a winning Championship runner’s-up medal from Middlesbrough following a mid-season loan move.
He was also an integral part of the Leicester City team that won the Championship title in the 2013-14 season and secured the club’s return to the Premier League in 2014, making 36 appearances and scoring two goals.
The following season in the EPL, De Laet earned 26 appearances including Leicester’s thumping 5-3 win over former club, Manchester United, playing alongside Jamie Vardy, Esteban Cambiasso and Riyad Mahrez.
“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.”