Ritchie De Laet has had a strange journey as a career and is yet another player who has not yet lived up to billing/potential in a Villa kit. The full/wing back joined from Leicester City in August of 2016 for just over two million pounds — but only started in the Championship four times with another four appearances off the bench.
A long stretch of that was due to an awful knee injury. Add to that the numerous choices at right back that Steve Bruce has been able to pick fro, and it is understandable why in January De Laet was sent on loan back to his hometown club of Royal Antwerp.
But this preseason has given the Belgian player a chance to shine and shine he has. During the matches when Bruce made the decision to play five at the back, De Laet looked completely comfortable in the wing back role. He also spent some time playing wide midfield — which points to the useful attribute of versatility. De Laet can play anywhere across the back line — though in as part of a back two-pair in the middle he would likely struggle.
Could this preseason be a sign of things to come — or is De Laet in the shop window as a possible asset to meet FFP?