Pep Guardiola was absolutely delighted for James McAtee as the Manchester City Academy graduate signed a new contract at the Etihad until 2026.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager explained the Cityzens’ plan for the 19-year-old and hinted that he could be in the mix for remainder of the season.
James McAtee’s future at the club was subjected to speculation before he penned down a new contract with the Sky Blues.
The Englishman’s prolific record at the academy level meant that a host of Premier League clubs were interested in signing the promising teenager.
"In a pre-match interview on the eve of their home fixture against Fulham, Pep Guardiola indicated that McAtee will be key for the upcoming six months or so and must be ready if needed.“ Me personally, Txiki or the club didn’t tell me he had an offer for a loan, maybe it happened because he’s a special player.“We can’t forget he’s just 19 years old. Develop with us, training every day is so important for him. For these six months he’ll stay here, train, maybe we’ll need him. In the future we’ll see.“Important is he’s fully committed to the club, he’s a City supporter, and he loves to be here. We are delighted with the confidence we have in him to extend for the years to come.”"
McAtee is having a stellar season for Manchester City U-23 side, doubling his stats from the previous season, netting the ball on 14 occasions and laying down 4 of them in as many as 15 appearances in Premier League 2.
With that said, the midfielder is entering a crucial period of his career where game time will be vital for his development. If he does get that at the Etihad it will be a joy to watch the teenager displaying his bag of tricks on the bigger stage.
Given the fact that Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan have become injury-prone off late, McAtee could be in line to be handed a few opportunities in the latter stages of this season.
With City deciding against loaning him out this past winter, he could be in line to be to spend some minutes on the pitch. If that isn’t the case then he is likely to be sent out on loan next term.
Guardiola has been a master at nourishing the Academy graduates with the likes of Phil Foden and Cole Plamer taking the big stage by surprise. If McAtee is anywhere to go by in the path of his fellow Academy mates under Guardiola, Manchester City certainly have another star in the making.