Just over a month ago I wrote an article about City’s pursuit of Brahim, Málaga’s boy wonder who has had scouts across Europe raving.
Now, after lengthy negotiations, City have beaten Barcelona to the signing of the 14-year-old, whose full name is Brahim Abdelkader Diaz, and who is due in Manchester this week with his family to wrap up the deal.
Brahim may only be 14, but this is a major coup for City and the club’s rapidly improving youth system, to sign a player who is being compared to Lionel Messi. Of course, it’s pretty unfair to compare any young player to the great Messi (who joined Barcelona at a similar age) and creates unrealistic expectations, but scouts believe he is at a similar level to what Messi was at the same age.
Barcelona pursued Brahim for two years, even rolling out the red carpet and introducing him to Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, a sign of just how much they rated the Málaga starlet. It was even reported that Barca felt he could break into their first team by the time he was 16!
It took a lot of work from Txiki Begiristain and others at City to convince Brahim and his family to make the daunting move to England, but an agreement was finally reached between City, Málaga, and his family. The relationship between Txiki and Brahim’s agent Pere Guardiola (brother of Pep) was also instrumental in this deal happening.
City will pay an initial £250,000 for Brahim, an incredible amount for a 14-year-old, but this sort of fee isn’t uncommon now for a teen starlet. That amount will gradually rise depending on Brahim’s progress, and if he ever becomes a star of the first team, City could end up paying £3.7m.
Málaga worked hard to try and keep the “pearl” of their “cantera”. “Cantera”, the name given to Spanish youth academies, literally means “quarry”, so the likes of Brahim are considered “pearls” or similar.
Brahim’s family had decided months ago to move on, the only question being where. The 14-year-old hasn’t played a competitive game this season after not signing the federal records required to play – which would also have prevented him from leaving Málaga before the end of the season.
Brahim will have plenty of Spanish company in Manchester, with the Blues having added some of Spain’s best teenage talent to a very promising new generation of local boys in recent months.
City’s U18s, who have won their last six games on the bounce, have the talented Spanish duo of José “Angelino” Tasende and Pablo Maffeo at left-back and right-back respectively.
If Brahim starts in City’s U16s, he will have Spain U16 internationals Manu García and Paolo Fernandes to keep him company.