Phil Foden once admired the stars of Manchester City’s first team so much that he was dazzled in training. Now he is the icon that paves the way for the younger generation of Pep Guardiola’s squad.
The 21-year-old is proof that City have it all as a football club: the best finances, state-of-the-art facilities and now a first-class academy producing play-worthy talent for the Premier League champions.
Once the most prominent academy product on this City team, Foden has joined several youth stars that Guardiola is bringing in this season. The most exciting of which is Cole Palmer, whose expert shot against Club Brugge gave him his first Champions League goal and heightened anticipation on his shoulders.
Pep Guardiola (second from the right) affirms that there are several youngsters from Manchester City passing
Sportsmail analyzes which players will follow Phil Foden (right) to make the qualification
But after City’s 5-1 European win in Belgium, Guardiola dropped an even more exciting claim: that five or six more City youths are ready to make the move to the first team this season.
‘Who knows?’ Guardiola joked. “If they continue to be humble and work, they can be important to Manchester City.”
Sportsmail goes through the youngsters that Guardiola is leaning to make a breakthrough at Manchester City in the years to come …
First team games: 7 (2 goals)
Let’s start with the man of the moment. Cole Palmer’s shares are so high that some Manchester Citys are already calling for the 19-year-old midfielder to start more Premier League games.
Palmer finished off home with a marvelous effort just minutes after entering Belgium on Tuesday night, adding to his delightful goal he scored in City’s 6-1 win over Wycombe in the Carabao Cup last month.
Cole Palmer scored his first Champions League goal in City’s 5-1 win over Club Brugge
The teenager is in the shape of his life as he scored a hat-trick with City’s Under 23 squad last weekend, just hours after playing for the Premier League first team against Burnley.
Palmer has also taken his scoring form to the international youth stage, scoring two goals in three games for England’s Under-21 team, where he mixes with established Premier League stars like Emile Smith Rowe, Curtis Jones and Connor Gallagher.
The midfielder has been with City since the age of eight, turning down an offer from Manchester United in the process despite coming from the same suburb as Marcus Rashford.
Before joining City, Palmer also had tryouts at Liverpool and Bolton, but failed to impress the academy staff there, while he was nearly eliminated from the Etihad academy a few years ago for being too small.
The 19-year-old midfielder huddled in brilliant effort during City’s Champions League win
Palmer (right) scored a similar effort in a 6-1 win over Wycombe in the Carabao Cup.
Now over 6 feet tall and impressive at first-team level, Guardiola has asked for patience regarding Palmer’s development.
“The people of this world want things immediately, but everything needs time,” Guardiola said. “You can’t cook a good dish if you don’t spend time in the kitchen.
“Cole has a special quality that is hard to find, he finishes it most of the time. He is training with us and taking our principles. He is a player for the future of this club. ‘
First team games: 3 (1 goal)
Liam Delap may only be 18, but technically he’s Manchester City’s first-choice center forward at the club.
With Gabriel Jesus being used in a large role, Delap is the No. 9’s only recognized option, although Guardiola likes to use a false nine in games, rotating between Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden.
Liam Delap, (second from right), son of former Stoke Rory star, is another youngster like Guardiola
Delap has yet to appear for City’s first team this season, although he made his breakthrough last season when Sergio Aguero was first injured and Guardiola lacked options up front.
The son of former Stoke longshoot Rory scored in a Carabao Cup third round win against Bournemouth last season, and made his Premier League debut three days later in a 5-2 home loss. against Leicester City.
He made one more first-team appearance with Guardiola before returning to City’s Under-23 squad, where he scored 24 goals in 20 Premier League 2 games.
The 18-year-old City forward scored in the Carabao Cup win over Bournemouth last season
Delap was approached by several championship clubs about a possible loan, but Guardiola was keen to retain him despite the offer to play more professional football.
“Liam Delap, for me (and) for the club, is very important for the future,” Guardiola said in August. ‘He is going to train with us, whether or not a striker comes. He will train with us all season. ‘
First team games: 1
Young winger Sam Edozie was a surprise name in City’s starting lineup in Community Shield’s loss to Leicester City in August.
The 18-year-old impressed for City’s youth teams and appeared on the U-18 and U-23 teams last season, finishing the campaign with seven goals and five assists in nearly 30 games.
Edozie then trained with the first team during the preseason schedule and scored in all three friendlies against EFL teams Preston, Barnsley and Blackpool, earning him a spot in the Community Shield starting lineup at Wembley.
Winger Sam Edozie (right) was named in the city’s Community Shield eye lineup in August.
The winger is clearly highly rated at Etihad Stadium and City reportedly paid a seven-figure fee to kick him out of the Millwall academy in 2019, meaning the Premier League champions are backing the teen to get him to continue.
Edozie has yet to appear in the first team since his Wembley outing, but keep an eye out for the name.
First team games: 1
The stars of City’s academy aren’t just attacking players, there are plenty of promising defensive options Guardiola is keeping an eye on.
The most defensive of those players is Luke Mbete, who started City’s 6-1 Carabao Cup win over Wycombe Wanderers and awaits more first-team opportunities.
Defender Luke Mbete made his debut in City’s 6-1 win over Wycombe last month.
Mbete has been with the club for five years after he was poached by the City of Brentford, who closed their academy five years ago to set up their ‘B-team’ setup.
The 18-year-old used to be a forward when playing in West London, but the Bees helped him become a defender, where Guardiola is using him in the first-team setup now.
Speaking about his first team debut against Wycombe last month, Mbete said: ‘I think we did very well. We are young, but we do not take that into consideration.
“We play as if it were a normal game. The players and the fans helped us a lot; they were brilliant. And obviously the support of (Pep Guardiola) as well and the staff behind the scenes. ”
Mbete (right) used to be a forward at Brentford, but now he’s at the heart of the defense
Position: Defensive midfielder
First team games: 1
The youngest of the academy hopefuls looking to enter Manchester City’s first team this season is 17-year-old Belgian midfielder Romeo Lavia.
The teenager was spotted by Pep Guardiola himself while the City manager attended the KDB Cup, a youth tournament organized by club midfielder Kevin de Bruyne in his native Belgium, to which he also invited the Spanish manager.
Romeo Lavia (left) is another City teenager who was given a start against Wycombe.
A year after Guardiola’s scouting mission, Lavia joined the City academy and was voted the U23 Player of the Season as his team won the Premier League 2 title.
Like Mbete, Lavia made his first-team debut in a landslide win over Wycombe and earned his first professional reserve in the process.
Belgium’s U-19 international Lavia admits he’s learning from City captain Fernandinho, while the teenager is also a fan of Sergio Busquets, who Guardiola coached in Barcelona.
The 17-year-old (left) is trying to learn from City captain Fernandinho for advice on midfield.
“I’ve seen a lot of Fernandinho and Busquets,” the teenager told Goal. Those two have dominated the game as defensive midfielders. I’ve looked at them a lot.
Fernandinho knows what he is doing, he does not run just to run. It’s like the brain of the team. When you’re young, you want to run, left to right, but he knows what he’s doing, so he won’t run as much, but he will still be effective.
That’s something I keep learning from him. I have spoken to him, but not in person on Covid, only on social media. ‘