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How Fabian Delph's Ill-Advised Statement Cost Him the Villa Send-Off He Deserved

22/07/2015 17:48 BST | Updated 22/07/2016 10:59 BST

Fabian Delph did a good thing for Aston Villa, but one ill-advised statement has cost him the send-off he deserved.

Few players in his position, stranded in an Villa side that's fermented around him for years, would be able resist the sky blue glow of Manchester City, whose four trophies in five seasons point at a club that refuses to be static.

Consistent playing staff improvements are testament to this theory, while the loss of two experienced players in Delph's position offers him genuine hope of featuring regularly in a side that will no doubt be fighting for the title while hoping to progress in the Champions League.

​Most reasonable Villa fans would understand Delph wanting to be a part of that, but not after what happened.

Going from "I'm not leaving, I'm staying at the football club" to "leaving Aston Villa football club is the hardest decision I have ever had to make" in less than a week is some retraction and without needing too much insight, it's one you would assume was prompted by the imminent departure of Christian Benteke to Liverpool.

Surely you must have known, Fabian, that Liverpool, on the cusp of selling their own star player to City themselves, for a fee touching £50million, would probably come back for the man they'd chased all summer and who they knew was available for a set price of £32.5million.

You must also have known that Benteke, a man who's requested transfers from Villa in the past, would jump at the chance to join one of the country's most successful clubs - historically at least. The decision to make that statement shall remain ever baffling.

It was a situation that required patience; see how the Benteke deal unfolds, tell Villa thanks for everything and be on your way to a move that many would understand. After all, Delph probably deserved to bow out of Villa with respect. He could have easily said no to the new contract he was offered and subsequently signed in January this year.

Contracts mean barely anything these days; Luis Suarez was all signature and smiles the winter before his departure from Liverpool to Barcelona. But Delph was in a different situation to the Uruguayan. Turning down Villa's offer would have resulted in him either being sold for a pittance right there and then, or leaving for nothing when his contract finally wound down on June 30th. The latter would have been even more cruel on Villa and its fans.

Instead, he agreed to stay put knowing that in all likelihood a move would materialise anyway - courtesy of an £8million buyout clause inserted into his new deal - and that if it did, at least Villa would be suitably compensated.

Ron Vlaar, another like Delph who's worn the captain's armband at Villa Park, wasn't quite as courteous; dragging out his future until the very end of his contract and ultimately leaving for nothing, despite also being offered fresh terms in January. Surely this was far more disloyal an act?

Even prior to Delph's statement on Villa's website, when everyone, including the club - who removed a graphic in which the player featured prominently from their official Twitter feed - thought he was off, there was much bile being hurled in his direction.

Yes, Delph was the club captain and he may have only been six months into a new deal, but you have to question Villa's decision to allow such a generous release clause in the contract of a now established England international. At that price they were practically begging other clubs to buy him.

This time last year, Adam Lallana moved to Liverpool for three times the price of Delph, despite being two years the midfielder's senior and having played just twice more at international level. £8m was a criminal undervaluation, although the clause is likely to have been half-engineered by an agent currently nursing his hefty cut.

It's hard to begrudge Delph his move though, even if other young Englishmen have toiled before him. With 112 Premier League appearances and six England caps to his name, he is far more established than Jack Rodwell (85 appearances, two caps) and Scott Sinclair (61 appearances, 0 caps) were at the time of their moves to the Etihad Stadium.

The summer departures of Frank Lampard and James Milner, who made a combined total of 64 Premier League outings last term, also mean there is no better time for Delph to be making his move up the M6.

If in a few years time it hasn't worked out, he'll still be young enough to secure a decent move elsewhere. He'll probably have a couple of medals and some Champions League experience to show for it, too.

For this reason Delph will move on from this summer's events. Villa fans might not, but it should never have come to this.

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