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Blue through and through- The new generation of academy products at Manchester City

Manchester City’s transfer spending is well documented but the fact is that the owners haven’t just stopped there. There’s a stark difference in investing in the team and doing so in the club. To their credit, the City owners have done the latter. This includes a focus on developing talent to emerge from the Academy and James Roberts thinks it’s beginning to bear fruit.

As one of the best training ground complexes in the world reaches completion, the race is heating up for Manchester City’s academy graduates to get themselves off the training ground,  across the newly installed bridge and over that chalk line on to the hallowed Etihad turf. There is a new culture brewing at the club, one of development and youth, to take all the hard work of the club’s management, owners and players on to the next level. Manchester City are the English champions, a team which has thrown off the shackles of the top four establishment, to become the best team in the hardest league in the world. But for this to be sustainable, the club’s youth players need to step up to the plate and become heroes in their own right.

Rekik Lopes

The talent pool is beginning to bear fruit but it was with heavy hearts that the fans waved off Micah Richards on to a new adventure in Florence on deadline day, the last in a generation they had become accustomed to.  But now on the horizon awaits some explosive players who in time should become the pillars of the club. Vincent Kompany recently suggested English talent should try their hand abroad in order to progress and return prepared to take part in the toughest league around. These are wise words, game time is pivotal. Marcos Lopes, on a season long loan to Lille, has been causing quite a stir scoring on his debut against Watford in the FA Cup and tearing West Ham apart in the League Cup. He now is having a crack in the French league with a team who play easy on the eye football, compete for honours and can offer European competition experience, ideal to test the water before returning to City to try and crack the first team. He has the hallmarks of replacing David Silva in years to come, large and magical boots to fill. Lopes showed fantastic composure to score against Nantes, playing alongside another talent Origi, who has been snapped up by Liverpool.

There is a lot of debate around the loan system with Chelsea in particular being criticised for their extensive list of players, but farming them out to foreign leagues is good for the players to develop and prove they are worthy of a shot on the big stage, where it matters and put bluntly where millions of pounds, jobs and pride are on the line. Football is now controlled by wealth, a business model and anyone who denies that is foolish. There is too much at stake for risks to be taken on untried prospects so by going on loan, displaying a willingness to prove their capability, these players should be commended.

Jason Denayer is another player backed to break into the first team in the future, an accomplished centre-half who has notched up two goals already in front of Celtic Park, what better place to progress and get an appetite for the big time. He plays centre half alongside a Dutch international in Virgil van Dijk on a regular basis and has the opportunity to play in the Europa League too. Playing week-in week-out alongside players of that quality can only aid his progress. Who knows, maybe he may partner Mangala in the seasons to come?

Devante Cole, son of United legend Andy has also found himself amongst the goals at Barnsley, Greg Leigh has been getting minutes under his belt at Crewe and Karim Rekik continues to progress at PSV and remains on the fringe of the Dutch national side. What these loan moves also provide is room in the City EDS side, a chance for the youngsters to progress under Patrick Viera. The likes of Bryan, Pozo, Gunn, Barker and Ambrose all seem to be prospering in the academy. The appointment of Viera was a shrewd move by City and he continues to produce results with the kids coming through and holds such a status over them, in that they are developing with a World Cup winning midfield general.

The club actively promotes the youth players in terms of the fans having access to their progress. The youth team goals feature in the goal of the month competitions on the club website as well as one to one interviews, and there is weekly round- up of all the loanees’ progress. It is exciting times for the club and its future prospects, who wouldn’t want a shot at breaking into the City side, working at the best facilities in the world under the stewardship of somebody like Viera. There is a core of players to the City side, the likes of Kompany, Silva, Hart and Yaya, all of whom of course will age, but the steps are now firmly in place for the City academy products to grasp any opportunity given to them.  All the fans appreciate the current crop of heroes, they have turned the fortunes of the club on its head and made City a force to be reckoned with, but the fans can’t wait for another Micah or SWP, those who work from the bottom all the way onto the pitch on a Saturday, and bleed blue for Manchester City.

Written by James Roberts

Read all articles in The Invisible Men Team Blog

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