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Manchester City: Guardiola could ditch Palmer in El Khannouss swoop

Manchester City are reportedly interested in signing KRC Genk wonderkid Bilal El Khannouss and signing the Morocco international could allow Pep Guardiola to ditch Cole Palmer.

According to reports from Belgium, City and Napoli are currently leading the race to sign Genk’s golden boy, with the Pro League side set to demand around €32m (£28m) for his services this winter as they look to make the teenager their record sale.

Despite being just 18, the attacking midfielder has featured in all but one of Genk’s games in the Belgian top flight so far this campaign, contributing two assists in 18 games and earning a solid 6.68 rating from WhoScored for his performances, with De Smurfen currently comfortably top of the Pro League.

The club’s technical director Dimitri De Condé was extremely complimentary of El Khannouss’ ability and potential last year, saying:

“Bilal is a pleasure to watch and during my eight years at the club, I have rarely seen such a talent at KRC Genk.”

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When you consider that the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Leandro Trossard have all come through Genk’s academy and gone on to big things, this certainly bodes well for the youngster’s future in the game, and City will no doubt be hoping that he can live up to his potential should he make the move to the Etihad.

The arrival of another highly-rated attacking midfielder could well spell the end for Palmer, who has struggled in his rare appearances so far this campaign, failing to notch a single goal or assist in any of his 16 appearances in all competitions.

The 20-year-old looked as if he could follow in the footsteps of Phil Foden when he was promoted to the first team by Guardiola, especially with his phenomenal record for the U21s, which has seen him manage 22 goals and 11 assists in just 29 appearances.

Guardiola has given him a chance to impress in each of the last two fixtures but he was anonymous in games against Chelsea and Southampton, so it would be a surprise to see him given many more opportunities this season.

Therefore, if the 18-year-old El Khannouss does arrive on the back of some impressive performances playing for a team at the top of the league, it could well spell the end for one of City’s academy graduates.