Ipswich Town are closing in on the £15m signing of forward Liam Delap from Manchester City. Stuart Watson looks at his career to date. 

Liam Delap is the son of former Stoke City midfielder Rory.Liam Delap is the son of former Stoke City midfielder Rory. (Image: PA)


Liam, was born in Hampshire, in February 2003.  

His father, Rory, was helping Southampton to an eighth-place top-flight finish at that time, with James Beattie banging in the goals. 

Thanks to his incredible long throws, later fully harnessed by Tony Pulis at Stoke, Rory Delap is a Premier League icon. The hard-working midfielder made more than 350 appearances at the top level between 1997 and 2012. 

His second son, Finn, was born in June 2005. He started out in Derby’s academy before making it as a pro at Burton. The 19-year-old, a centre-back, finished last season on loan at National League side Woking. 


Liam Delap spent a decade progressing through Derby County’s academy and soon started to create a buzz with his explosive pace and finishing. 

In August 2018, he made his Premier League U18s debut at the age of 15, coming off the bench against Everton. In January 2019, he picked up the Golden Boot award when away with England U16s at the Aagean Tournament in Turkey.  

Upon his return, he made his FA Youth Cup debut – still aged 15 – in a 2-1 loss against Man City. His team-mates that day included Eiran Cashin, Morgan Whittaker, Jason Knight, Max Bird and Louie Sibley. That Rams crop would go on to win the league. 

City were clearly impressed with what they saw from Delap’s sub appearance. That summer they paid out a £1m compensation fee to bring him to the Etihad. 

Liam Delap celebrates after scoring on his Manchester City debut.Liam Delap celebrates after scoring on his Manchester City debut. (Image: PA)


Delap spent his first season at City playing for Paul Harsley’s U23s side. Team-mates included Cole Palmer, James Trafford, Cieran Slicker (who he’s now reunited with at Town), Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Felix Nmecha, James McAtee, Morgan Rogers and former Ipswich academy star Ben Knight. 

Enzo Maresca then replaced Harlsey as U23s coach in the summer of 2020 and it was under the Spaniard's guidance that Delap started to really blossom. 

In September 2020, he was handed his first taste of facing senior opposition. The test was passed with flying colours as he scored twice – in the 89th and 90th minutes – to seal a 3-0 win at Mansfield in the EFL Trophy.  

Later that month, a sufficiently impressed Pep Guardiola handed Delap his senior debut as one of five teenage starters in an EFL Cup third round home tie against Bournemouth. The 17-year-old latched on to Phil Foden’s fine ball and produced a composed finish to open the scoring in a 2-1 win that was played behind-closed-doors due to Covid. 

“It was a bit of a shock to be put in the starting line-up but I took it with a pinch of salt and just worked my hardest,” he said. “I've got to keep my feet on the floor, keep working hard in training.” 

Guardiola said of Delap: “He's a different striker to what we have in terms of physicality. We see in training how good a finisher he is. Now he has to be calm and keep working. We are delighted with his performance - he played really well.” 

Liam Delap (left) pictured alongside Leicester's Jamie Vardy on his Premier League debut.Liam Delap (left) pictured alongside Leicester's Jamie Vardy on his Premier League debut. (Image: PA)


Three days later, with City’s squad ravaged by injuries and illness, Delap was handed his Premier League debut in a home game against Leicester.  

The score was 1-1 when he replaced Fernandinho in the 51st minute, joining the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and Riyad Mahrez on the pitch. City went on to suffer a shock 5-2 loss, with Jamie Vardy bagging a hat-trick. 

On his decision to introduce Delap, who did hit the bar with a header, Guardiola explained: “To put one player in the box with a good presence and to stay there. It was not easy because they had three centre halfs on the penalty spot.” 

The Premier League later sent Delap the match ball as a memento. 

“That was probably one of the best moments of my life,” he said. “I’ll put it on the shelf to remind me every time I see it. That’s the aim and the dream for me, to play as many games in the Premier League as possible.” 

Maresca said of Delap: “He’s just 17, he needs time to grow and to improve, but right now he is doing the right things. Physically, he is already ready to compete against professional teams. Absolutely he is a very exciting prospect.” 

Over the next year, Delap combined training with the first team alongside scoring regularly for the U23s. He came on in an FA Cup win against Birmingham in January 2021. 

“I see the likes of (Sergio) Aguero and (Gabriel) Jesus in training and how quick their finishing is,” said Delap. “There are so many things to learn from them.” 

When City missed out on the signing of Harry Kane in the summer of 2021, it looked like the door may be ajar. Delap suffered an ankle injury setback in pre-season though. 



In February 2022, Delap finally got to make his first senior appearance for City in front of a crowd. He replaced £100m man Jack Grealish in a 4-1 home win against Fulham in the FA Cup. 

A few days later, he came on for Foden late in a Premier League game at Norwich. Within minutes he ran in behind and was bundled over by Grant Hanley to win a penalty that Raheem Sterling tucked away for 4-0.

A special 11-day period then concluded with a Champions League debut. With City 5-0 up at Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon, Delap replaced Bernardo Silva in the 85th minute as progress to the quarter-finals was comfortably secured. 

Come the end of the 2021/22 season, Delap had 32 PL2 goals to his name. That puts him second in the league’s all-time topscorers chart behind Arsenal’s Folarin Balogun. 

With Erling Haaland subsequently arriving at the Etihad, it was clear a loan spell away was going to be the next step in his development. 

Liam Delap celebrates at the full-time whistle after Stoke saw out a 1-0 win at Blackburn.Liam Delap celebrates at the full-time whistle after Stoke saw out a 1-0 win at Blackburn. (Image: PA)


Several clubs showed interest in taking Delap that summer, but it was Stoke City – where his father was now back coaching - who got the deal done. 

The 19-year-old took on the No.17 shirt after getting the blessing of Ryan Shawcross. That number had been left vacant since the long-serving skipper’s departure the previous year. 

On his decision to choose the Potters, Delap said: “I really liked his (manager Michael O’Neill’s) idea for me. I also thought he was a nice man. I just went with my gut, I've always in my life gone with my gut, you can't really go against that.” 

O’Neill was sacked after just five Championship games though and replaced by Alex Neil. 

Come early January, Neil decided to reshape his coaching staff. Rory Delap left as part of the reshuffle. Not long afterwards, Liam – who had scored three goals in 15 starts and eight sub appearances - saw his season-long loan cut short. 

“As a consequence of one decision, another decision follows if you like,” said boss Neil. "Liam is a young lad, he's 19, he's played 23 times for us. He's had a lot of minutes and I'm pretty sure that he'll go on and become a really good player.” 

Liam Delap (right) scored one goal on loan for Preston.Liam Delap (right) scored one goal on loan for Preston. (Image: PA)


Delap joined Preston for the second half of that campaign. 

With Ched Evans, Emil Riis and Sean Maguire all injured, Lilywhites boss Ryan Lowe needed to bolster his frontline. Tom Cannon also arrived on loan from Everton. 

“Liam was one we targeted in the summer, so I’m really pleased we’ve got it over the line,” said Lowe. “He’s a good lad, a good footballer and a goalscorer.” 

Wearing the No.7 shirt, Delap ended up scoring just one goal in six starts and nine sub outings as the Lancashire club finished 12th. 

“It's been difficult at times, it's been good at times but it's been a great experience,” he reflected. “As a young player you need this sort of experience in your career. It's a learning process.” 

Liam Delap, pictured scoring for England Under-21s.Liam Delap, pictured scoring for England Under-21s. (Image: PA)


After representing England at the U20 World Cup in Argentina, Delap’s next destination was Hull City. 

Tigers boss Liam Rosenior, after securing a season-long loan for the forward, said: "I’m absolutely delighted. We’ve fought off a lot of competition from other Championship clubs and clubs around Europe.  

"Liam completely fits into the way we play. He’s got outstanding physical attributes and is a great finisher. He’s got freak speed, is aggressive and can run in behind, which is one of the areas we wanted to address. He’s someone the fans will really enjoy watching. 

"He’s had an amazing education and upbringing at Manchester City. In the right team that plays to his strengths, he can be a real asset and I believe he’ll be a real asset for us moving forward." 

Liam Delap celebrates scoring for Hull City against Birmingham.Liam Delap celebrates scoring for Hull City against Birmingham. (Image: PA)

Just 17 minutes into his debut, Delap opened the scoring at Norwich after robbing Ben Gibson of possession. Even though the team went on to lose 2-1 at Carrow Road, he was off the mark. 

In September, he scored the only goal of the game in a shock 1-0 win at title favourites Leicester. The left-footed strike into the bottom corner came after he’d brought the ball down expertly and ghosted inside from the right. 

A few days later, he scored on his England U21 debut as part of a 3-0 win away to Luxembourg. 

"I love him because, despite coming from a huge club in Manchester City, he is humble and down to earth," said Rosenior. "(Assistant boss) Justin (Walker) worked with Rory for a long time (at Derby) and they get on great. 

"Rory is someone with old-school traditional values and he's brought his son up to be a credit to him and his mother. I love those low-maintenance, hard-working characters that you need to be successful. Liam definitely fits that category." 

The following month, Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna explained Delap was the reason he picked George Edmundson over Cameron Burgess in defence for a 3-0 midweek home win against Hull. He said: "I thought his qualities tonight against Liam Delap would be really important. There are not many more powerful runners than George so we thought we'd put him up against one of the more powerful runners in the league." 

Hull may have lost 1-0 at home to Sunderland on Boxing Day, but Delap played like a man possessed completing five successful dribbles and winning 10 duels. One Tigers fan even took to Twitter to declare the youngster could be Kane’s successor for England. 

It was therefore a major blow, both for Delap and Hull, when the in-form forward was forced off with an injury during a 3-1 loss at Sheffield Wednesday on New Year’s Day.  

"He is looking to two to three months minimum, which is a real shame for him and for us because he's been such a bright spot," said Rosenior. "It is an issue on his knee, but hopefully it can be fixed without surgery.” 

The forward finally returned to action in mid-April as a sub in a 3-0 home win against QPR. He subsequently started two of the final three games, including that thrilling 3-3 draw against Ipswich at the MKM Stadium in which he scored.  

More often than not, Delap was deployed as the central striker for Hull. On eight occasions, he started on the right. He finished the campaign with eight goals and two assists from 26 starts and six sub appearances.  

Hull narrowly missed out on a play-off spot. Rosenior, who was up against McKenna for the Championship Manager of the Year award, was a shock sacking. It was clear this free-flowing Tigers team would be broken up.  

The pathway at four-in-a-row champions Man City was blocked for Delap. There’s no shame in that. He’s had to go elsewhere for his Premier League chance. Newly-promoted Ipswich, under the expert coaching of McKenna, looks to be the ideal next step on his exciting journey. It will hopefully prove a match made in heaven.