Resurgent Delph & 4 more who successfully changed position
Citizens man enjoying a revival at full-back
After a period of near-exile from Pep Guardiola’s plans, Fabian Delph’s star has risen in recent weeks. The 27-year-old has stepped into Manchester City’s left-back slot following Benjamin Mendy’s injury, and acquitted himself superbly.
In honour of the former Aston Villa man’s recent resurgence in a new role, the Coral News Team look back at four more Premier League players who’ve impressed after converting positions.
But first, a closer look at Pep’s rejuvenated full-back…
Fabian Delph (Manchester City)
It’s fair to say things didn’t exactly go to plan for Fabian Delph after his acrimonious move from Villa Park to the Etihad. However, Mendy’s injury has sparked a surprise revival from the 27-year-old, who is currently deputising at left-back.
Whether the former Leeds United man has a future in the role once Mendy recovers remains to be seen. However, he’s barely put a foot wrong since taking over the mantle.
City have conceded just once during Delph’s four outings at full-back this term, with his display in the 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge last weekend drawing plaudits. Add a solid display against Shakhtar Donetsk and a goal against Crystal Palace to the mix, and things are looking good for the man who came in from the cold.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
‘Spurs must lose Gareth Bale to land Stewart Downing’. That was a Telegraph headline back in December 2008, when the young left-back was struggling to make his mark at White Hart Lane.
However, then newly-appointed Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp gradually came to see the Welshman’s potential in a more advanced role. Moved into a left-midfield position during the 2009-10 season, Bale chalked up an impressive 11 assists.
From there, the versatile youngster moved between left-midfield, wing positions and a support striker role, with his trickery, pace and finishing making him one of the Premier League’s top performers. He managed 26 goals and 15 assists in his final Spurs campaign (2012-13), before Real Madrid came calling.
Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
After an explosive 2011-12 season in which he proved deadly on the right wing for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, the Ecuadorian endured a couple of lean years. The reasons remain hard to pinpoint, but the solution – converting Valencia to a right-back – was discovered by Louis van Gaal.
The man affectionately known to United fans as ‘Tony V’ proved a great fit for the role. With his energy, positional awareness and tidy defensive play continuing to improve since Jose Mourinho’s arrival, the 32-year-old still has plenty to give at full-back for the North-West giants.
Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
Initially deployed as a winger by Arsene Wenger at AS Monaco, the young Henry was converted into a centre-forward role by the same manager at Arsenal.
After a promising if patchy five seasons with Les Monegasques, the then 21-year-old had endured a miserable season with Juventus, and headed to North London desperately needing to revive his career.
He did so immediately, firing home 26 goals in his first season at Highbury. With an unerring eye for goal, the rapid Henry created an incredible strike partnership alongside the powerful, inventive Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp. The rest, as they say, is history…
Dion Dublin (Aston Villa)
The former England international wasn’t the first ageing centre-forward to find himself deployed at centre-back, but he might be the one who adapted best.
Dublin showed a real intelligence in his defensive reading of the game. Combined with his aerial ability and a surprising adeptness for a tough, well-timed tackle, the experienced Villan proved a hero at the heart of their backline.
Opposition strikers will certainly attest to his ability in that latter-day role. After facing Villa with Manchester United, a then 19-year-old Wayne Rooney told Dublin he was “the best centre-back” he’d played against. High praise indeed.
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