LONDON: Two months after finishing as FA Cup runners-up Aston Villa appear to be falling apart with captain Fabian Delph changing his mind twice to opt for a move to Manchester City and Christian Benteke poised to head off to Liverpool.
The departure of England midfielder Delph has been received angrily by fans of the former European champions since he extended his contract in January, declaring undying loyality his “my club” and used to the same reason for turning down an initial offer from City last month.
Then Delph had insisted: “I’m not leaving. I’m staying at the football club and I can’t wait for the start of the season and captaining this great football club.”
But the 25-year-old had a change of heart on Friday and, after completing a medical at City, prepared to fly to Australia to join his new team-mates on their pre-season tour.
Delph excused his first refusal on emotional rather than career decision grounds and said he quickly began to regret it.
He added: “That decision was based purely on feelings that I hold for the club and the people there that I would be walking away from – rather than looking at the football opportunity that had been placed in front of me.
“As a kid watching the game on TV and then as a young footballer you dream about testing yourself against the best in the world, to compete for major trophies and to play in the Champions League. I believe I owe it to myself to take the challenge of playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world in Manchester City.”
Belgium striker Benteke is poised to join Liverpool after ceo Ian Ayre triggered the £32.5m release clause in his contract.
Liverpool changed their stance on the 24-year-old’s valuation on Thursday, having previously maintained they had no intention of meeting Villa’s valuation. Manager Brendan Rodgers apparently changed minds at Anfield over the need for Benteke after the £49m sale of Raheem Sterling to Manchester City.
Rodgers and Ayre have already bought six new players, including Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim for up to £29m and England right-back Nathaniel Clyne from Southampton for £12.5m. Benteke’s arrival would push their summer spending to around £80m.