Brahim Diaz has become the latest Manchester City youngster to leave the Etihad Stadium, joining Spanish giants Real Madrid in a deal that could be worth up to £21 million.
The Spanish youngster made just five league appearances for City after arriving as a youth prospect from Malaga 2013 for just £200,000.
Diaz has also played in a number of cup games, but he departs for Real Madrid having not been given any real opportunity. Now, that may be right or wrong. After all, Diaz is only 19 years of age and he would have to be some talent to oust the likes of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane from the starting line-up.
However, there is growing concern over Manchester City’s youth prospects with an ongoing discussion following Jadon Sancho’s rise to prominence for Borussia Dortmund. The England starlet left Manchester City in 2017 after being frustrated with his lack of progression at the Etihad, and he’s gone on to be a hit in the Bundesliga for leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Manchester City, many claim, have sold themselves as a club that supports youth, with their world-class facilities and partnerships with other clubs.
However, few have come through to make the grade and Diaz is only the latest to depart the club having failed to be given any real opportunity with the club.City also sold a number of youth prospects in the summer, including Angus Gunn to Southampton for £13.5 million, Pablo Maffeo to Stuttgart for £9 million, Angelino to PSV for £5 million and Kelechi Iheanacho for £25 million.
Now, perhaps none of those players were going to make the grade at Manchester City, but it hardly sends out the right message for those currently in the setup. In reality, based on that evidence, City aren’t too much different to Chelsea in that they make money from their academy, but it’s not a true path through to the first-team as portrayed to the youngsters from a young age.
There are exceptions, however, and Phil Foden is one of those. The midfielder is tipped for great things and he has already made 13 league appearances.
The Stockport-born 18-year-old has also put pen-to-paper on a new long-term contract in December, so City aren’t planning to do away with their young talent any time soon.
However, they shouldn’t kid themselves into thinking Phil Foden will unconditionally devote himself to the club just because he’s a local lad who has come through the ranks. Foden is still young, but there’ll come a time when he will demand regular football and rightly so if his talents are as good as impressive as they appear.
Phil Foden is a different case to Brahim Diaz, he’s already in his home country and won’t have that desire to ‘go home’ like Diaz likely had.
Foden is also liked by Guardiola and he will be better served staying put, at least until he further proves himself and establishes himself as a first team player. He is only 18, after all, and no 18-year-old in the world has a divine right to play games. Not even Lionel Messi could demand that when he came through the ranks.
So, Foden must stick around and focus on his footballing education under Pep Guardiola for the meantime.However, that doesn’t mean big clubs won’t come calling and having sent out a bad message regarding their youth in the last year or so, Manchester City need to be careful how they treat Foden.
In this case, and others to come, Manchester City must trust their youth and even over some of their superstars if they want to start sending out the right message over their academy, if they want to keep hold of stars like Phil Foden, and if they want to avoid cases like Jadon Sancho and possibly now Brahim Diaz.