Contract delight for de Laet
Posted by nickogs20 on May 21, 2009
United’s Belgian centre-back Ritchie de Laet has revealed to the Belgian media that he has been offered a new one-year deal with the Reds.
A January signing from Stoke City, the 20 year-old was a surprising acquisition, having never appeared for the Potters’ first team. A former player with United’s Belgian affiliate club Royal Antwerp, the young defender was well-known to reserve boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s assistant, Warren Joyce, who had managed Antwerp as de Laet came through the ranks. With United lacking defensive numbers in the second string, de Laet was brought in on a contract until the end of the season, primarily it seemed to bolster the reserve squad, but also with the incentive of a longer-term contract if he could prove himself worthy in the second half of the campaign.
After a shaky start that saw his performances marred by costly individual errors, the Antwerp native showed a marked improvement in the last couple of months of the campaign, becoming a key part of a reserve defence that was impressively miserly in the closing stages of the season. From seemingly just being there to make up the numbers, Ritchie was now being talked about as someone with a promising future and real chance of securing a new contract, and confirmation of that last point has come this week in the form of an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad:
“I met with Sir Alex Ferguson for 15 minutes in his office. The coach came straight to the point and told me he was very satisfied. I train hard, I’m always here on time and I get along with everyone. My coach, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, had told me I would get good news. I am proud to be staying here.”
With that new contract in his back pocket, there could be further great news for Ritchie this week in the form of a debut for the first-team. With the Champions League Final looming next Wednesday, Sir Alex looks set to rest his stars for the Champions’ final Premier League game at Hull City on Sunday, providing opportunities for the likes of de Laet and second string team-mates Ben Amos, Richard Eckersley, Danny Drinkwater, Lee Martin, Zoran Tošić, Danny Welbeck and Kiko Macheda. With big question marks over Rio Ferdinand’s fitness, de Laet could quite conceivably play some part in the game at the KC Stadium. Exciting times for these youngsters, and the only disappointment for Ritchie is that the game is not in front of 76,000 fans at the Theatre of Dreams:
“We are already champions and next Wednesday we play in the Champions League final. Stars like (Cristiano) Ronaldo and (Wayne) Rooney will certainly be rested against Hull City. Hopefully I’ll get a chance. It’s just unfortunate that it is not at Old Trafford.”