Manchester City want new boss Pep Guardiola to unearth homegrown talent just as he did at previous clubs Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
City have invested £200m in the state-of-the-art Etihad Campus to bring through their own youngsters but so far they have struggled to make the breakthrough into the senior squad.
Despite twice reaching the FA Youth Cup final and winning this season’s under-18s, only Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho made a significant impact in City’s first team under previous boss Manuel Pellegrini — making 34 appearances last season and scoring 14 goals.
They expect that to change under incoming manager Guardiola, who has a track record for trusting young talent, which started during his four years at the Camp Nou, where he gave 22 youngsters their debut. He ditched experienced players such as Yaya Toure, Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldinho and Deco — building his team around the prodigious talent of Lionel Messi along with emerging players such as Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets.
It’s a similar tale at Bayern where young defenders David Alaba and Jerome Boateng improved hugely under Guardiola’s guidance while 19-year-old Kingsley Coman and Joshua Kimmich, 21, have been given plenty of opportunities in the first team.
Now City want the 45-year-old do the same at the Etihad and believe that their is the quality in the youth teams already that Guardiola will be able to bring through.
City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarek said: “[It was] one of the reasons why Pep was so highly considered by us. That’s really that ethos that we have at Manchester City that Pep I think actually believes to the bone.
“He’s done that with Barcelona, he’s done that with Bayern Munich, even with the abundance of talents that he had in both respective first teams, Pep always has a knack for talent.
“He loves to find young players that have incredible talent. He finds that talent, he nurtures it and you find they evolve and really succeed in both first team experiences that he’s had.
“Today, at our club, we have that. We have incredible talent today. This is the first time in years since we started this experience that truly and every level almost within the football club we have incredible talent.
“We are competitive with a lot of talent across all age levels going all the way up to the EDS. Pep, I think, will enjoy that and will find a lot of gems that we’re going to produce out of that.”
City’s academy players have been schooled in the sort of passing game that Guardiola has played at his two previous clubs. It includes English talent such as ball-playing centre half Tosin Adarabaiyo and talented keeper Angus Gunn while there is Spanish flair and skill in the likes of exciting youngsters Brahim Diaz and Manu Garcia.
Al Mubarek believes it is hard to blood youngsters in the ultra-competitive Premier League but insists Guardiola is the best coach to do it.
However, despite the intention to bring through young players, City are set to spend heavily again this summer in a bid to challenge for the Premier League after last season’s poor performance that saw them finish fourth — 15 points behind champions Leicester City.
“The balance is in the hands of Pep, he has a particularly way that he wants to manage the squad and particular way he wants to play,” added Al Mubarek.
“We will need particular players that I think will join the team that fit and will be moulded to the way he would like this team to play. And there will be players for whom the time is right to move on.
“So I think we will have some changes this summer. We will invest as we’ve always done in this club. We will provide the necessary resources for Pep to build a team that has the ambition and the capability to go on and win back this Premier League for us, to go as far as we can to try to win the Champions League and to keep pushing at the cups.”