When Aston Villa started to make wholesale improvements to the squad in the summer of 2016 they went on a spending spree bringing in talent good enough for the Premier League. One man they snapped up was even a Premier League winner the season before.
Ritchie De Laet was snapped up in the summer of 2016 after a season in which he won both the Premier League with Leicester City and promotion with Middlesbrough whilst on loan.
Considering he had also won promotion with Leicester in 2014, he looked the perfect addition to the Aston Villa fold.
Unfortunately, that has not proved to be the case.
The Belgian defender, who cost a fee reported by The Sun to be in the region of £2.5 million, was earmarked as the solution to Villa’s problem position of right-back.
However, De Laet never managed to have any sustained impact at Villa. He played just three times in his first season at the club before picking up a knee injury against Brentford. He was subsequently ruled out for the rest of the season.
This term he managed to feature sporadically through the first-half of the season but in January found himself out of contention. The 29-year-old was therefore sent out on loan to his boyhood club Royal Antwerp until the end of the season.
He immediately went into the starting XI for the Belgian side but has recently been dropped for the Europa League play-off fixtures.
It comes after a switch to 3-5-2 from his loan club, who have preferred to play Benfica loanee Aurelio Buta at right wing-back ahead of De Laet.
This will certainly not have been the plan for De Laet, who will have hoped to have found his best form again in Belgium. However, it has not been that straightforward and he now finds himself on the bench.
This summer will be interesting for De Laet. It certainly does not seem as though Steve Bruce sees him as an Aston Villa player in the future. If the Villans can also capture promotion, it is expected new faces will arrive to push De Laet even further down the pecking order.
Thriving out on loan might have changed the mind of a few figures at Villa Park.
But seeing as he is not even an immediate starter with Antwerp, Aston Villa will likely consider him dispensable in the summer.