It’s a new era for Manchester City under Pep Guardiola and though it will take time for the Spaniard to well and truly make his mark on the City side, the signs are encouraging and there is plenty of optimism going into the new season.
One of the things City fans are most excited about with the new boss is his trust and faith in integrating youngsters into the first-team – many felt that Manuel Pellegrini failed to fully take advantage of the unbelievable talent and resources at his disposal from the academy set-up.
Pep has a track record of giving youth players opportunities and we could well see a number of youngsters in the first-team fold this season.
Here are five youngsters to look out for in the 2016/17 campaign.
A summer signing from Russian side FC UFC, Ukrainian youngster Oleksandr Zinchenko initially looked set for a loan move away. But that talk has now quietened and even with an array of attacking talent infront of him, he could play some sort of role this season.
The 19-year-old played a total of 100 minutes in pre-season and impressed. A Ukraine international, he has a cultured left foot, great vision and an eye for a pass. Guardiola can take him up another gear.
Perhaps Guardiola’s most famous youth product is Sergio Busquets, who he promoted to the Barcelona first-team from the club’s ‘B’ team in what was a huge gamble. Pep has a similar type of player on his hands at City in Aleix Garcia, a former Villarreal youth product who excelled in his first-team debut against Chelsea in the FA Cup last season.
Like Busquets, he is incredibly comfortable on the ball and finds his teammates with ease in that deep midfield role. Of all the youngsters to join City on their pre-season tour, I think he is the one most ready to play for Pep Guardiola on a regular basis.
As a football fan, there aren’t many things better than seeing one of your own come through the ranks. Tosin Adarabioyo is a Mancunian at heart and made his debut with the U-18’s when he was just 14 and has been on a path to the first-team ever since.
He got his first-team debut last season in the game against Chelsea in the FA Cup, along with a host of youngsters. Remarkably, it was seasoned Martin Demichelis who looked nervous and error prone as opposed to the composed and commanding Adarabioyo.
Pep has already heaped praise on him after his displays in pre-season and though he’s far from the finished article, the towering centre-back looks to have a future at City and could get some game-time this season.
One of City’s best performers in pre-season, this could finally be Angelino’s breakthrough season at City. Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy are still at the club but there is no reason why he cannot feature on occasion, particularly in cup games.
Positionally, he still has areas to improve but he’s excellent rampaging forward from left-back and has the energy levels that Guardiola loves. Here’s hoping he gets a look in.
When bringing in a replacement for a club hero like Pablo Zabaleta, you might as well go for someone with the name. Enter Pablo Maffeo, another full-back who wears his heart on his sleeve and fights up and down the right flank on a regular basis.
He spent part of last season on loan at Spanish second division side Girona and like his Spanish compatriot Angelino, has enough about him to stake a claim in the City side for Cup games.