You’d have been forgiven for forgetting that Fabian Delph was still a Manchester City player this time last week.
The England international had barely featured across two seasons with City after all and, with Pep Guardiola spending over £200 million to reinforce an already fearsome squad this summer, it appears that Delph was set for another year of warming the bench.
And that may be true. Delph has only played 20 minutes of football this season. However, when he has been given an opportunity of late, the 27-year-old has seized it in style.
Just four days after crashing home a late wondergoal to put the icing on City’s 5-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace in the Premier League, the former Aston Villa captain showcased his versatility with a stand-out performance at left-back in Tuesday’s 2-0 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk at The Etihad.
"Fabian Delph was man of the match,” an enthused Guardiola said in quotes reported by the Daily Star. “When a guy who is so kind and can help the team, he is intelligent, is physical and never loses the ball. He controlled (Shakhtar’s Brazilian dangerman) Marlos and did it very well."
Therefore, Delph’s potential revival as a makeshift left-back only provides another reason why he could have come in handy at Celtic this season. The Mail reported that The Hoops were desperate to offer the Leeds-born midfielder an escape route from City – although he would have been expensive at a club-record £12 million.
First choice midfielder, second choice left-back?
And while his energy and passing range would have added further quality to an already strong Celtic midfield, Delph could also have provided first-choice left-back Kieran Tierney with some experienced back-up. After losing Emilio Izaguirre in the summer, unproven teenager Calvin Miller is the only other option at Brendan Rodgers’ disposal.
Though Delph, who played at left-back on a few occasions during Gerard Houllier’s spell in charge of Villa, could have lessened Celtic’s reliance upon the excellent Tierney.
As it is, however, the reborn midfielder chose to stay at City. And that is looking increasingly like a good decision.