Manchester City boasts a strong crop of academy youngsters, and Pep Guardiola is taking notice.
Manchester City’s academy squad has each been in excellent form to start the season, performing at an elite level all the way around. Also in recent weeks, several of the academy graduates from the Elite Development Squad (EDS) have put on such impressive performances that they have been called up to the first team squad by manager Pep Guardiola.
The City youth teams are unique from some other Premier League academies in that the squad itself trains and plays with a very similar style to the City first team. This means that with the addition of Guardiola and the installation of his attacking, precision-passing model of football in the senior squad has led the EDS and academy squad to adopt a similar play-style to better help the prospects gain experience in Pep’s ideal system.
Pep has fully embraced the City academy in his tenure so far, often allowing the young players to train with the first team – usually a few at a time. Just this week, rumors emerged that highly touted prospect Brahim Diaz has been training fairly regularly with the City first team for the past few weeks, and could soon debut and prove his mettle at only 17.
City’s U-18 coach Lee Carsley has done a great job so far adapting youngsters to a style that fits Pep’s mold, and it has paid high dividends as the team has cruised past the competition. It would not have been surprising the see the team struggle at first to adapt to this high-proficiency passing attack, but the team’s immediately taken to the new tactics. As a result the U-18 team currently remains undefeated, and thoroughly impressed in the derby this past weekend. City won the match two-nil against hometown rivals Manchester United with goals from Phil Foden and Luke Bolton.
U-18 squad captain Joel Latibeaudiere has impressed heavily at centreback this season, and at only 16-years-old, he has shown excellent poise on the ball with precise passing. His talent is undeniable, and he possesses a play-style comparable to that of John Stones and shows the versatility to play on the flank in a pinch.
U-18 Swiss goalkeeper Arijanet Muric has played consistently well so far this season. Muric possesses the height and natural steel to potentially be a Premier League level keeper down the road. He is certainly a player Pep will be keeping an eye on.
With such a talented bunch currently in the City EDS and academy, it will be interesting to see just how many players Guardiola will integrate into the first team as the season progresses and in the next few years. Manchester City, without a doubt, has built an awe-inspiring group of academy players that have the potential to carry the club well into the future.