Manchester City have enjoyed the luxury of cherry-picking some of Europe’s finest talents in recent years; however, despite their financial clout, they also have a number of talented youngsters who have recently graduated from their academy.
Phil Foden has slowly become part of the first-team squad over the last 18 months, and there are also a plethora of youth team regulars who will be hoping to follow in his footsteps. Pep Guardiola has previously spoken of his desire to work with young, hungry English players, and with both Tommy Doyle and Taylor Harwood-Bellis having caught the eye in cup competitions this season, it may be time for this extremely talented duo to finally make the step up.
“Phil is the most talented player I have seen in my career. He has everything to become one of the very best!”
– Pep Guardiola on Phil Foden (2019) pic.twitter.com/CwNp0H50DK
— City Chief (@City_Chief) April 22, 2020
Academy director Jason Wilcox has also spoken of his desire to produce more first-team players over the coming months, and although cup competitions provide the perfect opportunity to blood some of these upcoming talents, he’d surely prefer to see his graduates given the chance to impress in the top flight.
Phil Foden’s development has been fairly protracted, although he’s expected to be the natural successor to the outgoing David Silva. The 19-year old has continuously impressed over the last 18 months, and Wilcox is hoping that he won’t be the last home-grown player to break into Guardiola’s starting XI.
Tommy Doyle is Manchester City through and through, and the dynamic midfielder has caught the eye during his numerous appearances in the UEFA Youth League. He is comfortable with both feet and has the ability to dictate play from deep. Guardiola is an advocate of players who are able to keep possession in central positions, and the youngster’s possession-based style is likely to appeal to the former Bayern Munich boss.
Although he may have to wait a little while longer for his first Premier League appearance, he will surely clock up plenty of minutes in cup competitions throughout 2021. After scoring twice in nine appearances in PL2, he was then invited to join the first-team squad, and it surely won’t be long until he is following in the footsteps of grandfather.
Tommy Doyle is making his Manchester City #FACup debut.
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) January 4, 2020
Taylor Harwood-Bellis has enjoyed more of a prominent role this year, playing eight minutes of Champions League football as well as featuring twice in the EFL Cup. With Manchester City starting the season as clear favourites in the League Cup betting and widely expected to make it through to the latter stages of the competition, Pep Guardiola opted to make a number of changes during the early rounds, and the 18-year old was one of the many beneficiaries. The tenacious centre-back helped his side keep a clean sheet against Championship Preston and also caught the eye against Oxford in the quarter-finals of the competition.
The centre-back is comfortable with the ball at his feet, which is something of a pre-requisite of playing under Guardiola. Despite his footballing ability, he is also strong in the tackle and doesn’t shy away from aerial duels. He’s calm under pressure, and that is a skill which will come in extremely handy when he finally makes the step up to the Premier League.
Although the club hasn’t been particularly associated with bringing through academy graduates in recent years, it seems that the six-time Premier League champions have a wealth of tremendously promising prospects on their hands. Both Tommy Doyle and Taylor Harwood-Bellis look destined to become Manchester City regulars over the next couple of the years, and the talented pair will be hoping to play a more prominent role at the Etihad throughout 2021.