Khaldoon Al Mubarak believes Manchester City have at least ‘three or four’ players in their academy who are capable of following Phil Foden to the first team.
After years of careful nurturing by Pep Guardiola, Foden finally established himself as one of City’s most important players this season and enjoyed a fantastic campaign, scoring 16 goals and wracking up 10 assists.
The 21-year-old is a shining example of the quality in the Blues’ academy and Al Mubarak believes there’s plenty more where he came from.
“It’s not hope, we have a lot of very talented players in the academy,” the chairman said in part three of his end of season interview when asked if he hopes the club will produce another Foden.
“Very talented players at different age groups and we have a head coach that is committed to giving them the opportunity. Not just to train with them but actually to play.
“You’ve seen it this year, whenever he has had the opportunity to give some of these players some minutes playing with the first team he’s done it.
“I don’t want to name names. One of the lessons I’ve learned over the years is let them grow into it. I can tell you right now there’s no less than three or four talents that we have identified that have an incredible prospect. Pep has his eye on them and they will be given the opportunity.
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“Look at how Pep has managed Phil’s integration with the first team. He was criticised, we were criticised. Patience, perseverance, learning. Look at Phil. I think it’s hard to argue that we are were not good caretakers of his development into the player that he is today and we will do the same with the others.
“I always appreciate and understand criticism, that’s a part of the game, but I think on this note, I feel very confident that our team knows what they’re doing. We have top professionals, top scouts and we have a committed coaching organisation to give these players the best opportunities for growth and development.”
Al Mubarak also recalled the day he first met Foden as a child on his first day as club chairman in 2008 and believes the ‘Stockport Iniesta’s’ journey proves the value of the academy.
“Back in 2008, my first visit to Manchester, my first day as chairman of this club, I visited Platt Lane, I was taking a tour and I was introduced to the coaches to a young lad, eight or seven-years-old back then and they told me this boy is a very special boy, you should meet him,” he recalled. “I said yes it will be a pleasure.
“So they brought this boy called Phil and that eight-year-old started in the Champions League final for Manchester City. That’s the value of a great academy, that’s the story of evolution, that’s how I think great clubs are built. Homegrown talent that live and breath Manchester City. “