Wednesday 25 April 2018

Delph set for City as Blues step up efforts for Sterling

Sterling: Back in training
Sterling: Back in training

John Percy and Chris Bascombe

Manchester City are poised to sign Aston Villa captain Fabian Delph for £8million and are stepping up their efforts to capture Liverpool striker Raheem Sterling.

Delph is expected to have a medical in the next 24 hours after City triggered the release clause in his Aston Villa contract. City's interest in the 25-year-old midfielder was first revealed in June and he is expected to leave the Midlands six months after insisting he was "a loyal person" when he agreed a lucrative new deal.

However, the lure of the Champions League and a Premier League title challenge has proved decisive and his move should be completed over the weekend.

City have targeted Delph to increase their home-grown quota and he has been assured that he will have a major part to play for manager Manuel Pellegrini this season.

Villa manager Tim Sherwood has lost one of his key players and could also face the prospect of Christian Benteke departing before the start of the season.

Delph's exit will also come as a huge disappointment to Villa supporters after the England international signed a four-and-a-half-year deal in January.

After signing he said: "I am a loyal person and committing my future will hopefully show everybody what type of guy I am. I feel like this is me - I love the club. This is my club and I want to be here."

However, he had an £8 million release clause inserted in his contract, which City have now triggered.

City are ready to test Liverpool's resolve once more over Sterling, who returned to training yesterday after missing the previous two days through illness. City, who are well aware of the worsening relationship between Sterling and Liverpool, made contact with Anfield officials last night and are likely to lodge a bid of around £40million with £5million in add-ons. However, this still falls short of Liverpool's £50million valuation and is almost certain to be rejected.

Sterling's dispute with his current employers has prompted an offer of mediation from the Professional Footballers' Association.

Liverpool expect Sterling to abide by the terms of his contract and join the club's pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia this weekend, but they are open to the idea of the PFA intervening.

It has not reached the stage where the English PFA has been summoned yet, but Anfield officials are acutely aware of the possibility of Sterling failing to show up when their flight departs tomorrow afternoon given a recent catalogue of indiscretions.

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