Successful campaigns and winning titles at all levels; Manchester City start them young. The City Academy is known for producing top quality talent.
However, as talented as the City academy prospects are, not all of them make it into the senior squad. Stockport superstar, Phil Foden, set the benchmark for young academy players when Pep Guardiola plucked him out of the youth team to train with the seniors.
Foden has been massively successful since, winning 11 trophies and being an integral part of Pep’s squad; winning two consecutive Premier League Young Player of the Year awards.
Understandably, others, such as Cole Palmer and James McAtee, hope to follow in his footsteps. Training with Pep and the senior team, Palmer was impressing Pep, pundits, and fans until he was halted by injury midseason, and we are yet to see much of McAtee with the first team.
Others are not as patient; some are realists or perhaps lack belief that they won’t get their chance with a regular spot with the first team. Players such as Jadon Sancho and Brahim Diaz, head for less competitive leagues to try and establish themselves as top, first team players.
This summer transfer window has seen a number of young talents leave the club in one way or another. The most recent, Taylor Harwood-Bellis on loan to reunite with Manchester City legend and new Burnley Head Coach, Vincent Kompany.
Kompany adding another City youngster CJ Egan-Riley, who had run out his contract after more than 10 years with the club, to his new team. This time on a permanent deal for a small fee.
Less substantial rumours include interest from Brighton for Liam Delap, and Rangers amongst other clubs’ keen on bringing in James McAtee.
However, Luke Mbete must believe he has what it takes, as he signed a new deal keeping him at the club until 2027.
Why do so many City academy talents seem to be either leaving, or open to leaving Manchester City? I propose that there are multiple reasons.
One reason to consider may well be a harsh reality, that they just aren’t good enough to break into the first team as a regular. City fight on all four fronts each season for trophies, with Pep taking each one as seriously as the other.
No matter the opponent, Pep picks strong sides and pays his respects whilst usually laying other teams to rest. Therefore, time for youngsters is typically limited in a side full of stars like City.
Whilst players develop incredibly well at the City academy, players naturally want to progress their careers when lucrative and attractive opportunities arise. Especially when clubs from less competitive leagues come knocking. They want their moment to shine.
Another reason to consider is BUSINESS. Developing the potential of some of the most gifted young footballers means that the club will inevitably make money from selling them onto other clubs. We then have the small funds to bring in class like Haaland and compete at top level.
This is the nature of a modern “Elite Development Squad”, with rumours of more set to exit as the window continues. Of course, it is a bonus when we develop absolute gems like Foden, and like him, they are able to shine the brightest amongst some of the worlds best. In reality, this is rare.
No matter the reasons. City fans will support the blues that stay, and wish well the ones that decide to move on….. but not you Jadon Sancho! Not you.