Pep Guardiola has informed City’s youngsters that they are unlikely to be handed many chances in the first team next season. Pep, who has been praised for his ability to integrate youth into his squad, has warned, “I don’t know if they are able to compete”.
Guardiola, who spent the 2007/8 season winning the Tercera Division with Barcelona B, has had limited opportunities to introduce young players into City’s starting eleven this season.
Just four academy players have made first team competitive appearances under Pep this season. Kelechi Iheanacho has started only five Premier League games this campaign after the introduction of fellow striker Gabriel Jesus has put the 20-year-old Nigerian’s future in doubt. Centre-back Tosin Adarabioyo started one game in the Champions league, and midfielder Aleix Garcia started his only league game against Middlesbrough in April. Meanwhile, Spanish right-back Pablo Maffeo – who is 19, like Adarabioyo and Garcia – made three appearances before being loaned to FC Girona in January.
Guardiola – who has suggested Premier League teams be able to field B teams in the football league – has criticised English football’s management of young players in the past – claiming the gap between academy and first team football is too wide to easily introduce young players into the league.
“The league they [the second teams] compete in it doesn’t count, so the gap between the first team and second team when they compete is so big,” said Pep.
“They are 16, 17 or 18. The quality is there, but maybe not in the next year.”
Guardiola fielded several youngsters in the friendly matches before this season, and has promised to do the same this summer. He assured, “They will come to the United States on our pre-season tour so we are going to see how they are.”