Although it may be hard to believe looking at City’s expensively assembled first team squad, youth development is one of the club’s main priorities and the spectacular City Football Academy site, which is fast taking shape, is ample proof of that. The club is in particular very optimistic about the younger groups, with the largely Mancunian under-13 and under-14 teams winning national championships last season.
Developing young local players good enough to play for the first team is a serious priority within City’s corridors of power, not to mention something City fans would love to see.
But like any top club in this day and age, City are also aggressively pursuing the best young talent from across the globe. Many foreign starlets have been signed up in the past few years, including several Spanish youth internationals like Manu García, Pablo Maffeo and José Angel Tasende, who have all recently joined.
Another young Spanish player linked with the Blues has made headlines recently and he is Brahim Abdelkader Diaz.
Brahim plays for Málaga in Spain and is a diminutive 14-year-old playmaker considered to be one of Spanish football’s “young jewels”. There have been predictable comparisons to Messi because of his small frame and extraordinary skill, so it should come as no surprise that Barcelona also want him.
Barcelona have in fact been pursuing Brahim for a couple of years now, going as far as to introduce him to Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, but Málaga rejected an offer from Barca last year.
Enter City. Looking to add more wunderkinds to the ranks, Txiki Begiristain has made contact with Brahim’s agent, Pere Guardiola. Recent reports from Spain indicate that Brahim and his parents have verbally agreed to join City, but this has yet to be confirmed. If there is truth to that claim, City must also strike an agreement with Málaga, and a formal offer has yet to be made to them.
Málaga youth chief José Manuel Casanova claims City are not the only English club interested, but Txiki’s good relationship with Pere Guardiola, brother of former Barcelona manager Pep, could help see off interest from domestic rivals. You can’t rule out Barcelona, though, who remain interested in Brahim and will make further efforts to add him to the prestigious La Masía talent factory.
How good is Brahim? You’d have to ask those who watch him every week, but he is so highly regarded by scouts that Barcelona believe he could be in their first team by the time he’s 16. These video compilations offer a glimpse of just what all the fuss is about.