Before Friday, many Manchester City supporters will have never heard of Darko Gabi. He spent the first half of the season out with a knee injury before making his return to the club’s Under-23 team, who won the Premier League 2 title under Brian’s Barry management. Murphy’s
Leeds United, on the other hand, has agreed to pay £5 million for the 18-year-old midfielder. There is still a Premier League club willing to pay a large amount for a player who has appeared in zero first-team squads under Pep Guardiola.
City’s purchase of Kalvin Phillips for £45 million helps, but it also reflects the evolution of the game in recent years, which the City academy has adapted to and which now aids the first team’s plan. It has never been easier for the academy to produce first-team caliber players than it is right now.
Brahim Diaz, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Angus Gunn are just a few of the players who have left Manchester City’s academy for large money when it became evident that their time at the club had come to an end. Bigger organizations have been known to scrounge around other academies in search of a good deal.
For example, City bought Liam Delap from Derby and Sam Edozie and Gyabi from Millwall, while Leeds signed Joe Gelhardt from Wigan for pennies on the dollar a few years ago.
However, Premier League teams have seen a growth in recent years in doing what Bundesliga sides have recently specialized in and offering game time to individuals in top-six academies who feel ready for top-flight football.
In the race to sign Chelsea’s Tino Livramento last summer, Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhuttl beat Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey by a whisker. The two clubs have also set their sights on Manchester United’s James McAtee, with Brighton making an initial bid in January and Southampton signing goalkeeper Gazunu for £12 million this summer.
As a result of the academy’s recent improvements, City currently has more Premier League clubs rating its young players than at any other time in the club’s history, giving them an advantage in the transfer market.
The City Football Academy has set such a high standard that clubs interested in doing business with City can inquire about throwing a youngster into the mix knowing the quality they’ll get while the player gets the opportunity to begin their Premier League career earlier than they would at the Etihad.
Gabi is the perfect candidate for this position. With an 18-year-old defensive midfielder who oozes class while also showing amazing physicality for his age and a terrific engine to assist attack and defense, the academy has generated many jewels. The player has already shown many of the attributes needed to make for a very excellent career in football.
There’s no doubt that Gyabi will have to weigh up his choices now that Manchester City has brought in an additional £45m player in his position, but his skill and refinement of his game show that he can go straight to a top-flight team like Chelsea. But for someone his age, he’s already accomplished an impressive feat.
Pep Guardiola has increased Manchester City’s influence on the England national team, with Gareth Southgate making full use of City’s personnel and methods. City’s sway over the English game is expanding now that more of their academy graduates are making their way to the top division thanks to the academy and their transfer budget.
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