Aston Villa have signed midfielder Fabian Delph to a new four-year contract today. The move is yet another in the seemingly endless string of youth signings Villa have made this year, coming on the heels of new contracts for Marc Albrighton, Chris Herd, Barry Bannan, Eric Lichaj, Jonathan Hogg, and
Craig Gardner (edit: GARY Gardner. Sorry). If he can prove himself at Villa, Delph has a shot at making the England national side, as he's had multiple caps in both the U19 and U21 teams. The opportunity seems even more likely given Fabio Capello's near-constant lurking at Villa matches.
Delph's new contract is another encouraging sign for Villa fans, as it appears the team is absolutely committed to a youth movement. The transition won't be without a few bumps, but if Villa can develop talent in-house and let this team grow together, we're looking at seeing an incredibly good squad in a couple of years. It's also great news for financially pressed owner Randy Lerner. In light of the recent (self-evident) news about the wage bill taking up a huge chunk of Villa's revenue, an emphasis on young players will likely bring that burden down a bit. If combined with a culling of the chaff that is our older more useless players, Villa will avert a financial crisis before it even has chance to take root.
In his first few games back from injury this year, it's been a bit tough to judge Delph's effectiveness, as he's been forced to play out of position. He hasn't been terrible in those situations, but we should reserve judgement on his playing until we get an extended chance to see him where he belongs.
But from what we know of his time at Villa, and his previous experience, Delph has the potential to be a key player in a midfield that is becoming absurdly stacked. The numbers aren't available for the contract, but given his lack of playing time, I doubt it's anything to be worried about. It's yet another encouraging piece of news in what has clearly become a rebuilding season.