Manuel Pellegrini has identified Fabian Delph as a potential summer transfer target, as his improved form for Aston Villa last season has caught the eye of the Manchester City manager.
The Telegraph reports that Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba still remains the priority target for City, however, with the 22-year-old also attracting attention from the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as their closest rivals, Manchester United, Delph is being considered as a back-up option if they miss out on the France international.
DELPH'S RISE IN FORM
The 25-year-old was one of the few Villa players who shone under previous manager Paul Lambert but since since Tim Sherwood was appointed as his successor in February this year, Delph has continued his upward trajectory in form.
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Operating in a central midfield role, his high energy style of play and impressive range of passing made the Villa captain a critical component in their fight for survival.
Particularly strong in the second-half of last season, where he played in every minute of their last 17 Premier League games, Delph also chipped in with two goals from his four FA Cup appearances, paving their way towards the FA Cup final, which they subsequently lost.
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Now an England regular under Roy Hodgson after making his international debut earlier in the season during the crucial win against Switzerland in the European Championship qualifier, he has proved to be more than capable of playing at this level and looks fairly assured of remaining in Hodgson's plans for some time to come.
A CHEAPER ALTERNATIVE
With the interest surrounding Pogba likely to spark a bidding war between Europe's top clubs that is estimated to reach as much as £80million, the signing of Delph would be a considerably cheaper option. Sure to stand in his favour, this would then allow City allocate funds elsewhere, particularly as they continue to pursue Raheem Sterling.
Despite signing a four-year contract with Aston Villa in January, City will be unperturbed, as their significant financial resources will allow them to produce an offer capable of tempting Villa to part with their captain. However it is yet unknown what value is being placed on the head of Delph.
A further point of interest for City is that they will be well aware of their need to fulfil a quota of homegrown players in their squad.
Currently Joe Hart is their only recognised home-grown international following the losses of Frank Lampard, James Milner and the expected departure of Micah Richards this summer. As a result the need to fulfil this quota has become a top priority of the summer.
As City look to address this situation by potentially bringing in Delph, they have this morning once again moved to sign Sterling by submitting a bid to Liverpool of £35.5 million for the player.
City fans, do you think Delph would be a smart addition to your squad? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.