Youth foundation

Man City break youth record as Brahim Diaz seals Real Madrid move

Diaz scored two goals against Fulham in the Carabao Cup in November

Manchester City are maintaining their record by allowing young hopefuls to leave the Etihad Stadium, club sources say.

Brahim Diaz, 19, has joined Spanish giants Real Madrid in a deal worth more than £ 21million.

He is the latest youngster to leave the club in recent seasons, with departures including winger Jadon Sancho, who has played for England since joining Borussia Dortmund for £ 8million in 2017.

But the staff of the Premier League champions are adamant – Sancho aside – they call him correctly.

Who is Diaz and where does he play?

Diaz rose to prominence during the 2017 UEFA Under-17 Championships in Azerbaijan when he scored three times for Spain, who finished second to Portugal after beating England in the quarter-finals.

At that time, he was already part of the City sides that lost the 2016 and 2017 FA Youth Cup finals to Chelsea. He made his first senior appearance in September 2016 and signed a three-year contract days later.

At 5-foot-7, Diaz has a combination of pace and balance that has been used in center positions in youth football. He tended to be chosen wider at the first-team level, often cutting inside modern lore, rather than staying on the wing to provide crosses for others.

Diaz’s problem is that City already have Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez who are able to do the same job.

England international Sterling, 24, and Algeria’s Mahrez, 27, have signed long-term contracts and German winger Sane, 22, is expected to follow suit in the coming months.

The truth is, City’s coaching staff don’t think Diaz is yet at the level that would justify moving any of these players, signed for £ 49million, £ 60million and 37million respectively. of pounds sterling.

How much will Diaz cost in Madrid?

Real have agreed to pay £ 15million for the Spain Under-21 international, with an additional £ 6.5million.

Moreover, City have a 15% sell clause, which drops to 40% if Diaz leaves Real for Manchester United.

Diaz joined City from Malaga in La Liga at the age of 14 in 2013 and has made 15 first-team appearances, four this season.

His last outing came in the Carabao Cup quarter-final victory at Leicester on December 18.

Brahim Diaz and Jadon Sancho
Diaz and Jadon Sancho, pictured together as young players at City in 2017, have both left City

So do City have a problem keeping their best youngsters?

They would say no on proof that the one player they really wanted to keep, a Stockport City fan Phil Foden, signed a long term contract to 2024 in December.

City have sold a number of young players this summer: goalkeeper Angus Gunn at Southampton for £ 13.5million, right-back Pablo Maffeo at Stuttgart for £ 9million and left-back Angelino at PSV Eindhoven for £ 5million. In 2017, City sold striker Kelechi Iheanacho to Premier League club Leicester for £ 25million.

Sources in City say none of those cases turned out to be a mistake.

However, they accept that there is a glaring omission from this list.

Is Diaz another Sancho?

Sancho had not made an appearance for City when he left for the Bundesliga in 2017.

Manager Pep Guardiola had planned to take him on a preseason tour of the United States, but Sancho concluded – as Diaz has done now – that he had no chance of making a first-team breakthrough and refused to sign a new agreement.

In the circumstances, the City was reasonably satisfied with the fees received. Still, after taking a year to fully adjust to his new surroundings, Sancho has risen to prominence this season.

The 18-year-old has scored seven goals and scored eight goals as Dortmund have emerged atop the German top flight and reached the last 16 in the Champions League. He also won three caps in England.

In December, the CIES Football Observatory said Sancho’s transfer value had risen to £ 79.44million.

Not that City are the only club to be caught off guard in this way. Manchester United have paid a club record of £ 89million to buy French midfielder Paul Pogba four years after allowing him to leave Old Trafford for Juventus for just £ 1.5million.

How big is Real Madrid’s appeal?

City wanted to keep Diaz and a number of improved contract offers were made in an attempt to persuade him that his future remained at Manchester.

In 2016, Diaz said he could “live here forever”.

However, city staff also accept that Los Blancos have an appeal that is hard to resist for a young Spaniard.

They are convinced that their academy, housed in one of the best training centers in the world, is a place where they want to develop the talent of their own first team – but financial considerations must be taken into account.

Once they realized that Diaz would be leaving, potentially for nothing this summer, they had little option but to seek the best possible deal.

They believe it is done because, if all the clauses are followed, Diaz will be on the verge of becoming one of the 10 most expensive teenagers in world football.

Where does Diaz fit into Real’s plans?

This one is interesting.

The suggestion is that Diaz will be in the first team for the remainder of the season before a decision is made on whether to send him on loan.

They don’t really need more Spanish players in their Champions League squad, so it remains to be seen what exposure Diaz will get in the first-team.

Los Blancos signed another teenage striker, Brazilian Vinicius Junior, for £ 38.7million this summer.

However, although impressive in the preseason, he has only started three games, including two in the Copa del Rey.

The real Leganes play in the last 16 of the competition over two rounds later this month.

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