Leeds United have had many huge Premier League players come through their academy over the years with Jack Charlton, James Milner, Gary Speed and Kalvin Phillips a few of the players who learned their craft rising through the ranks in West Yorkshire.
Indeed, Leeds have struggled in more recent times to keep hold of their young prodigies as top six Premier League club’s have picked off many players to strengthen their sides at the top end of the table, with Phillips the most recent to be snatched away from the club in the summer when Man City paid £42m to complete a deal.
One academy graduate the Whites should have never let go was Fabian Delph, and there is no doubt that Ken Bates had a shocker selling him back in the summer of 2009 when the 20-cap England midfielder joined Aston Villa for £8m.
Delph, who was hailed a “leader” by Tim Sherwood, did return on a one-month loan in 2012 but quickly went on to bigger and better things becoming part of Manchester City’s rise to dominance making a move to the Etihad in 2015 which led to huge success for the player.
During his four-year stint on the blue side of Manchester, Delph won two Premier League titles, three League cups and an FA Cup, with his contributions to the club leading to high praise from Pep Guardiola who hailed the midfielder’s importance in the team in 2017:
“There are some guys who just want to play their position but he is a guy who always wants to help.”
“He’s not scared to play. Even when sometimes we are under pressure on the ball, he tries to play to give us an extra pass and let the opponent run. It helps us a lot to have these kind of players.”
Did Leeds make a mistake selling Delph?
The 32-year-old is currently a free agent after his contract expired with Everton this summer, but his poor injury record since joining the Merseyside club could be a contributing factor to the player’s inability to extend his stay with the Toffees or to find another club.
With that being said, looking back it will surely be a decision the former powers at Elland Road would have regretted whilst watching Delph lift the Premier League trophy with Man City, but ultimately it would’ve been hard to hold on to a player of his talent in the Championship.