Manchester City, homegrown players and the threat of stagnation

Looking at Manchester City’s current squad, a number of key things stand out straight away.

An array of international stars are present, a core contingent of ageing players comprise the crux of the group, while there is also an emphasis on attacking-minded individuals.

However, one thing that will be of major concern to the outgoing Premier League champions is the lack of homegrown or English players.

Joe Hart aside, no player eligible for representing the national side is guaranteed a place in Manuel Pellegrini’s first team.

Of the current contingent, there are only three other English players in the Chilean manager’s squad – 37-year-old back-up goalkeeper Richard Wright, contract rebel James Milner and New York-bound Frank Lampard.

With the latter two players seemingly set to leave the Manchester club ahead of next season and Wright’s contract expiring, it raises grave concerns over how the club can meet the homegrown quota of players in 2015-16.

Looking at the reserves and academy, most of those ready to challenge for a place in the first-team squad are also not English.

Micah Richards has been farmed out on loan to Fiorentina and finally looks likely to leave his boyhood club, while the brightest young prospects originate from overseas.

As such, seeing City look to buy some bright young English players this summer would not be a big surprise.

James MilnerThe fees associated with signing homegrown players are generally higher than scouting a player on the continent and with financial fair play rulings to adhere to it remains to be seen just how many stars of Raheem Sterling’s stature the Citizens can afford.

Other than the wantaway Liverpool forward, other young English players such as Ross Barkley, John Stones, Aaron Cresswell, Danny Rose and even Jack Wilshere have been touted as potential new additions to lift the quota.

However, English players will be naturally reluctant to move to the Etihad Stadium given the recent record of their compatriots that have seen their careers stagnate after doing so.

A number stand out.

Jack Rodwell was being widely touted as a player capable of being England’s next Steven Gerrard-like figure, with international recognition and kudos galore during his time at Everton.

However, a switch to City saw the defensive midfielder on the fringes and the next couple of seasons of his career a complete write-off.

Now at Sunderland, Rodwell has become something of a forgotten man and it remains to be seen just how good he could have become had he not wasted two years sitting on the sidelines in Manchester.

In 24 months on City’s books, the 24-year-old started a mere seven Premier League games.

Scott Sinclair is another that was drawn in by the bright lights only to find himself playing a role in filling a quota rather than on the pitch.

The flying winger was the posterboy of Swansea’s massively successful debut campaign in the Premier League, but departing for Eastlands saw the now 26-year-old’s promise completely evaporate.

Having just completed a permanent move to Aston Villa in a bid to salvage his career, Sinclair leaves City having started two Premier League games in three years for the club.

The danger for some of England’s rising stars in joining City is there for all to see.

Someone like Barkley, who is widely regarded as one of the most promising young homegrown players, has technical ability in spades but needs to develop – something that can only happen by playing regular football.

A move to City and competing against an array of international stars for a starting jersey seems like a battle he would be destined to lose.

For Pellegrini’s men, the expenditure on youth facilities is a clear ploy to try and breed some stars of tomorrow in an effort to avoid the cost of paying for someone like Sterling or Barkley.

However, with the cost of failure as high now in the modern game as it ever has been, just who City’s homegrown players will be next season is anyone’s guess.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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