Melbourne City have announced they have signed Belgian defender Ritchie de Laet for the 2018-19 A-League season, but it was not just coach Warren Joyce who helped push the deal over the line.
City revealed the 29-year-old had inked a one-season loan deal, filling their final marquee place for the upcoming campaign.
“Ritchie has a lot of experience at a very high level and his quality and versatility provides us with a number of options,” Joyce said.
“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.”
The English gaffer worked with de Laet at Manchester United between 2009 and 2012, so the pair are familiar with each other’s styles.
But it was at Aston Villa where de Laet was sold the A-League by two instantly recognisable names.
Both Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak and former City loanee Ross McCormack convinced de Laet of the “opportunity” down under.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to come out here and play some football under the gaffer; Warren, I know from before so I’m excited,” de Laet said.
“I was read for something completely new and I don’t think you can get any further away than Australia.
“I knew the gaffer here as well and I spoke to Ross and Mile … they told me it’s a great place to be.
“I know what he (Joyce) wants from his players and I was always wanting to give 100% for Warren.
“He was always fair, so Warren being here probably held me coming here a little bit.”
De Laet promises to bring plenty of English football experience to City, boasting a wealth of caps at both Premier League, Championship and international level.
He was part of the Leicester City team that clinched the Premier League title against odds in 2016.