Ritchie de Laet joined Portsmouth on loan in January, after already playing for Preston and Sheffield United on loan this season.

This week he has claimed that he’s really happy with the progress he’s made over the last few months on the south coast.

“This must be my best-ever season because I am playing that many games,” he said. “I’ve been playing here for 18 games in a row now and I’m enjoying it. I need the experience to get into that first-team squad of Manchester United, that is my plan. Portsmouth is giving that to me. I have a lot of big players around me that help me day in, day out in training sessions and in games and that has really benefited me. Being in the Championship, it’s fast and it’s hard for 90 minutes so it’s about trying to keep calm on the ball and when the pressure is on you. I feel I am more comfortable now. The confidence is there so that’s good for me as well. I just try to do my best every game. I am improving all the time and this season has been the best season for me.”

It’s good to see he is full of confidence but how do Portsmouth fans rate his performances?

Mark Allaway from The Offside Portsmouth:

Ritchie De Laet has been one of our many loanee defenders this season and has near enough made the right back slot his own. He’s played all the 18 games we’ve had him on loan for and he’s blended into the Pompey style well by getting forward from the full-back slot. He has made it very clear in the press that he wants his long-term future to be at United but would be willing to come back on loan next year and we’d love to have him back.

Strengths – De Laet is a good defender, but its the blend of defence and attack that brings out the best in him. Though he may not have scored it’s his general contribution to attacks that have seen him go down well with the Fratton Park faithful.

Weaknesses – I certainly wouldn’t say De Laet has been the best defensively of our players this season – but many people believe that is Ricardo Rocha and look what he’s done for us lately… I think many of De Laet’s defensive lapses are through inexperience and he’ll only get better.

Best moment – Hard to pick an outstanding moment but I would go for Ipswich away back in February. During our winning run, confidence was high and we were getting consecutive cleansheets, and Ritchie was a part of that. He also aided the attack and allowed the likes of David Cotterill and Jonathan Hogg to break forward from midfield and run out 2-0 winners.

Potential – Watching the likes of Rafael and Fabio I think De Laet can be a Manchester United full-back of the future based on what he’s shown at Pompey. For a recent signing he is also showing refreshing loyalty and ambition with United, at times he has said he feels ready to play at Old Trafford right now!

Fratton Faithful:

Ritchie has come into the side and done very well. He offers pace going forward and combines well with players when attacking from the wing. He has also shown that he has a cool head when defending, opting to pass the ball out of play or let it roll out for a goal kick instead of hoofing it out of play or straight back to the opposition.

I’m not sure if he’ll ever be good enough to become a regular for United as his defensive qualities aren’t what is required for a top Premier League team and he’s not as quick as Rafael either. If the transfer rumours are anything to go by, he could probably do a job in the top division, though, and I’d certainly like to see him back at Fratton Park next year if the loan option is available again.




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