In an absolute gut-punch, 19-year old central defender Eric García looks set to leave Manchester City for Barcelona after Pep Guardiola announced he had rejected a new deal.
Just after losing Leroy Sané, Manchester City are faced with a similar situation as Eric García must either be sold this summer at a discount price or leave for free next year. Despite investing first-team action, significant development, and making García first choice in one of the world’s best teams, the young Spaniard wants to return to boyhood club Barcelona, a club in crisis and without an identity.
García was set to play a massive role in both the short-term and long-term future at City, and had forged a significant partnership with Aymeric Laporte at the back during the Premier League restart. While the allure of Barcelona cannot be denied, from an empirical standpoint, it simply seems like a mistake for García’s career in nearly every aspect.
First and foremost, his path to playing first-team football is either better at City or at the very least equal to the situation in Catalonia. As of now, even with the signing of Nathan Aké, García is City’s best right-footed central defender, and if a big name signing such as Kalidou Koulibaly arrived, he would still be the next man up in defense and would feature regularly.
Barcelona, like City, have a solidified left-sided center back in Clément Lenglet, but on the right club legend Gerard Piqué is often the preferred choice. Given his contribution to the club’s massive success over the last decade, it will be difficult for a 19-year old to convincingly lock down a starting spot over a club legend, and he will also face competition from Samuel Umtiti and even potentially Jean-Clair Todibo.
Moreover, Pep Guardiola is one of the very best managers in the world, and playing under him has brought out the best in nearly every player. The situation could not be more different at Barça, where recent managers have constantly come under fire with a board characterized of ineptitude and failure to trust younger players. García left La Masia in the first place because the club would not show enough faith in his abilities as a talented youngster, and now he looks set to return at a time when the club are at an absolute low.
City, on the other hand, have a very bright future, a clear direction, and a good style of football. City are one of the best-run football clubs in the world from board level down, while Barcelona could not be more of a mess in recent seasons. City has a culture of excellence and calmness, while Barcelona is frenetic, regularly splashing money on big-name flops.
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Much like Sané, the disappointment stems from the fact that the club did everything they could to support their player, but the player discarded that and the support of the fans because they thought they were better than Manchester City. García was eased brilliantly into first-team football exactly at the right moment (and much earlier than if he had stayed at La Masia), and the second he has an opportunity to repay City’s good faith by locking down his future, he takes the chance to use his performances in sky blue as a bargaining chip to return to Barcelona. I personally would no longer play García in the upcoming Champions League campaign and instead give more time to Fernandinho to fill in or John Stones in one last bid for him to remain at the club.
In a way, this is another byproduct of Laporte’s injury, because I highly doubt García would have featured regularly enough to attract Barcelona’s interest if the Frenchman wasn’t injured, and likely would have penned a new deal. However, while rumors Barcelona’s initial offers have been insultingly low, such as £13.5 million, City may need to cut their losses once again and move on. Losing García is a massive blow, and once again, it feels like the club did everything right but were snubbed by a player at the expense of supporters, the manager, and the team.