City chief: 'Much to do' to get Academy players in first team

Phil Foden is yet to play for City's first team

Phil Foden is yet to play for City's first team

MANCHESTER CITY chief executive Ferran Soriano admits there is “much more to do” to bridge the gap between the club’s Academy and first team.

Since manager Pep Guardiola took over last summer, he is yet to give a Premier League debut to an Academy player. While the club’s annual report singled out Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz for praise, neither has appeared in the league yet.

The report also made no mention of Jadon Sancho, player of the tournament at the Euro U17s, who moved to Borussia Dortmund in the summer because he could not foresee any immediate chance of first-team football at the Etihad.

Diaz did make his first-team debut as a substitute in an EFL Cup match again Swansea last September, while Adarabioyo has featured in the FA Cup and a Champions League preliminary round.

Although chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak states in the report that Foden made his first-team debut in the Champions League, he was actually only an unused sub against Celtic.

Soriano said: “It has been two years since we moved into the City Football Academy [and] we are beginning to see the results of this investment with players like Phil Foden, Brahim Diaz and Tosin Adarabioyo making their first-team debuts, whilst the Academy won nine trophies across all age groups.

“There is certainly much more to do to help our players bridge the gap between youth and senior football and we will continue to work hard in this area.”

Guardiola has previously said he does not believe Premier League 2, which replaced the U23 league, is strong enough to prepare players for first-team action.

Brian Marwood, the Managing Director of City Football Services, has suggested City’s partnerships with other clubs around the world could actually provide a better stepping stone.

Soriano added: “This year we announced a new member of our City Football Group family – FC Torque in Uruguay – a club that will help increase our presence and player development activities in South America.

“This growth comes as our earlier acquisitions reach a level of maturity which has seen them win men’s and women’s trophies (Melbourne), improve their final ranking by 13 places (New York) and make encouraging progress, particularly in reaching the semi-finals in both domestic cups (Yokohama f Marinos).

“We are now seeing how our growing network of clubs can translate both into commercial opportunities for the group and development opportunities for players. As an example, we saw young Australian Aaron Mooy, formerly a Melbourne City player, join Huddersfield Town for the Club’s record transfer fee."

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak added: “The high standards to which our senior men’s and women’s teams are held applies across all age groups, not least the Elite Development Squad.

“Two members of that squad made their first team debuts last season and nine trophies were won by our academy teams throughout the year.

“The ongoing development of Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz in particular, continues to be encouraging and our commitment to nurture our own talent remains a central pillar for the Club’s long-term sustainability.

“The report pointed out that City had scored more goals than any other team in PL2, and two of its members, Brahim Diaz and Phil Foden, enjoyed their first team debuts in the Capital One Cup and Champions League respectively.

“Four EDS players made European finals with England. Lukas Nmecha and Isaac Buckley- Ricketts were part of the tournament-winning U19 team, and Phil Foden and Joel Latibeaudiere made it to the final with the U17s.

“EDS members Thomas Agyepong, James Horsfield, Manu Garcia, Ash Smith-Brown and Pablo Maffeo were loaned to NAC Breda and Girona for the 2016-17 season, at the end of which both teams had achieved promotions to Eredivisie and La Liga respectively.“

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