Much of the focus on Pep Pep Guardiola’s arrival at Manchester City has been focused on what superstars will he entice to join him at Eastlands?
But City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarek wants to make sure that the new boss does not overlook the young talent that is already at the club:
“[It was] one of the reasons why Pep was so highly considered by us. That’s really that ethos that we have at Manchester City that Pep I think actually believes to the bone” Al Mubarek said.
“He’s done that with Barcelona, he’s done that with Bayern Munich, even with the abundance of talents that he had in both respective first teams, Pep always has a knack for talent.
“He loves to find young players that have incredible talent. He finds that talent, he nurtures it and you find they evolve and really succeed in both first team experiences that he’s had.
“Today, at our club, we have that. We have incredible talent today. This is the first time in years since we started this experience that truly and every level almost within the football club we have incredible talent.
“We are competitive with a lot of talent across all age levels going all the way up to the EDS. Pep, I think, will enjoy that and will find a lot of gems that we’re going to produce out of that.”
City have invested £200m in the state-of-the-art Etihad Campus and much has been written about how good the City academy is. They have twice reached the FA Youth Cup final and winning this season’s under-18s. Still only Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho has been able to break through into the City first team, making 34 appearances last season and scoring 14 goal.
For all the accolades that the City academy has gotten, it has to rile Al Mubarek that it is their noisy neighbours who are seen as more youth friendly as Manchester United uncovered a couple of potential stars via their academy last season, including one of the hottest young strikers in England Marcus Rashford.
Guardiola has a track record for trusting young talent, which started during his four years at the Camp Nou, where he gave 22 youngsters their debut. He ditched experienced players such as Yaya Toure, Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldinho and Deco, instead building his team around the likes of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets.
It’s a similar tale at Bayern where young defenders David Alaba and Jerome Boateng improved hugely under Guardiola’s guidance while 19-year-old Kingsley Coman and Joshua Kimmich, 21, have been given plenty of opportunities in the first team.