The Citizens have two of the brightest teenage prospects in world football on their books, yet neither have secured futures.
Brahim Diaz’s current deal runs out in the summer while Phil Foden’s contract has a year to go.
Pep Guardiola has insisted he wants the teenagers to be a part of the sky blue’s future, according to FourFourTwo, but the promise of first team football, better deals and a fresh opportunity can turn a player’s head. City must ensure this does not happen.
The pair are amongst the first to seriously emerge out of the City academy with a chance of slotting in at the top. Already they are lined up with potential suitors by various outlets in Juventus, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
BVB have already lured one of City’s brightest away – Jadon Sancho turned his back on his youth side and is now cutting it at the top in the Bundesliga outfit’s first team.
Despite their age, both midfielders have shown glimpses of what they can bring to the City first team in very limited outings. Foden has now recorded 19 appearances for Manchester City, to Diaz’s 14.
Neither have great height or strength, as both stand at 5 foot 7, but their agile physique is perfect for the quick-natured dribbling they can produce in an attacking midfield role.
A touch with flair, a quick spin and a pinpoint pass, Foden has the potential to transform from a rough diamond to the jewel in Guardiola’s attack.
The Spanish manager’s faith also saw the Stockport-born ace set a Premier League record by becoming the youngest ever player to be handed a winners medal last season.
As for Diaz, Thursday night’s Carabao Cup brace against Fulham would have helped raise his stock on the trading room floor. In the game, the Malaga-born prospect showed great awareness to pop up in the box and score.
Foden’s contract talks have also created a situation where the 18-year-old could leave at development costs of just £175,000, according to The Mirror. Some way shy of the £13.5million TransferMarkt value the teenager at.
It’s easy to look at the likes of Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson who are regularly pulling on their clubs jerseys and think anyone can do it.
That is simply naïve; while the pair are playing regularly they fit the systems being deployed in Dortmund and Hoffenheim. Sancho also had a year to settle in at the club and Nelson was already making appearances for Arsenal before his loan to Germany.
Not that long ago Ravel Morrison was being talked about as the next big thing, but nowadays he is struggling for game time at Lazio.
Rio Ferdinand revealed on BT Sport earlier in the year, per reporting by the Daily Mail, that Sir Alex Ferguson believed Morrison was better than Ryan Giggs as a youngster.
If Diaz and Foden honestly think they can make it at the top already, they need a stern talking to as they are far from the finished product those systems need.
Norwegian teenager Martin Odegaard will certainly have something to say about life at the top, after making what seemed like a dream move to Real Madrid at 16.
While leaving Manchester City for a Juventus or Real Madrid will say a lot about how much other clubs value Foden and Diaz, it will say just as much or if not more about how City’s academy is run.
It is all well and good producing players that go on and receive heaps of praise, but it does not speak well for the club if they do not get a chance to shine there.
Guardiola would have convinced the club’s owners to divert funds into the academy and now these two players are his best opportunity to show that was a worthwhile move.
For all the big money signings City have made over the years, to have someone emerge from their own ranks and become an established member of the first team would show they have a wider vision on where they wish to go.
With Brahim Diaz’s deal running out in the summer, City cannot simply rely on the player knowing the desire they want for all young players, they must actively encourage him to sign a new contract by making some kind of statement.
FourFourTwo’s report had the former Barcelona manager stating: “They know how we want to protect them. He understands the way we want to play. We want him. But it doesn’t depend on us. It is the desire of them. It’s the agent, him, family, they decide.”
The same goes for Foden, as appearances here and there will not be enough to discourage them from leaving. Make assurances that they will either get more game time at the Etihad or go out on loan to clubs that will give them the chance to show what they are capable of doing.
But they must be tied to new deals first. Think more Nelson going on loan to Hoffenheim after signing a new deal at Arsenal than Sancho leaving Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund.
Sure, sticking it out at the club has its benefits as well for Foden and Diaz, but learning from David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne is not how they will show they can dislodge them.