A look at four of the best and most promising prospects to come out of the Manchester City academy.
In 2008, Sheikh Mansour poured tremendous funds into the improvement of every aspect of Manchester City Football Club. Some of the financial takeover’s effects were immediate, with City moving into the brand new Etihad Stadium, as well as the club having the means to sign world class talent to the first team.
Other improvements, however, have taken longer to come to fruition: the City academy program has rather recently begun churning out its first graduates. Did the investment work? Here, we will look at some of the most exciting names to come out of City’s academy, and what their futures could possibly hold for them.
The England winger Jadon Sancho, now 17, stirred up a great deal of hype with his dazzling skills in youth matches last year. For months, he looked set on track to back up and provide depth for City’s senior wide attackers Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané in just one to two short years.
Yearning for a quicker path to first-team regularity, however, Jadon opted out of signing a contract with City. He now plays for Borussia Dortmund, where he hopes to fill Ousmane Dembele’s boots and provide consistent speed and agility on the wing for the German club. Only time will tell whether Sancho will realise his full potential.
With his recent heroics on the youth international stage, Phil Foden has earned attention from football fans around the world. The versatile attacker won the Golden Ball at the U17 FIFA World Cup last year, topping off a run of electric form with a brace in the final in the win over Spain.
Recently, coach Pep Guardiola has experimented with introducing Foden into the City first team, with whom he now regularly trains. While his best moments have come against similarly aged opponents, City fans hope that he can replicate on a larger stage.
Tosin Adarabioyo is the other academy prospect who has earned special interest from Pep Guardiola. The rangy central defender has promising physical attributes, but needs to develop more such that he can push and shove with Premier League level opponents on free kicks and corners. The underlying pace and power that are so important for centre-backs are there for Tosin, but he still lacks polish.
This raw talent has often earned him a spot among the substitutes on City’s roster, but he is yet to receive an extended amount of minutes. Always short on defenders, fans hope that Tosin can be the dependable centre-back they need when Stones and Otamendi are tired or injured.
Pablo Maffeo is a couple years older than the previous three players on this list, but that’s not all that separates his situation from the others. The Argentinian right back is on loan from City at the moment, getting good top-flight football at Spanish club Girona.
A breakout moment for the youngster was when he was recently tasked with man-marking compatriot Lionel Messi—he defended splendidly in that match, earning the respect of Messi and the interest of City fans. Considering the current dearth of fullbacks in City’s squad due to injury, some have even called for his return to Manchester to make up the numbers. Hopefully, Maffeo can work his way to a spot in next year’s roster, and even a starting role further in the future.
City have pushed a handful of other talents through to the first team, but none of them seem to have the potential to stick around like Foden, Tosin, and Maffeo. Sancho no longer plays with City, but he did produce a nice €8 million profit for the club.
There is no denying that it would be tremendously satisfying for the City fans and board alike to see their academy players succeeding in the first eleven. All hope for a bright future for these young stars.