With Manchester United set to line-up against Liverpool on Saturday without a locally-developed player in the side for the first time in Premier League history, the topic of home-grown talent is a contentious one.
Across town, Manchester City’s state-of-the-art training complex affords the club’s players, from the first-team down through the various youth levels, the world’s best facilities.
But, with the sales of Marcos Lopes to AS Monaco and Jose Angel Pozo to UD Almeria and the exclusion of striker Kelechi Iheanacho from the Champions League squad, City have once again failed to successfully promote their most promising Elite Development Squad (EDS) players.
Heading into the future, are the avenues still open for the brightest local talents to one day grace the Etihad turf?
Here we look at five players most likely to do just that.
5. George Glendon: defensive midfielder, 20
Son of Kevin Glendon, a former Manchester City midfielder himself, George is best suited to hoovering up loose balls and retrieving possession in front of the back-four.
Diminutive and fleet-of-foot, Glendon has made 69 appearances in Patrick Viera’s EDS side, flourishing in his deep midfield role.
Appointed captain for the 2014/15 season, Glendon led his exciting City side to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Youth League after storming through the group stage, in which City boasted a 100% record.
Known for his leadership skills and composure on the pitch, Glendon earned a dream place on the City bench for their Champions League match against German champions Bayern Munich in November last year, and will be hoping for more chance to impress Manuel Pellegrini in the coming months.
4. Tosin Adarabioyo: centre-back, 17
A familiar face in the Manchester City U18 side by the age of 14, 6’5” centre-back Adarabioyo is one of the academy’s most naturally talented players, prompting U18s boss Jason Wilcox to appoint him as U18s captain last year.
The England U18 international led his team to the Premier League North Division title, making 17 appearances before earning a promotion to the EDS side last season.
Rising to the challenge yet again, the Manchester-born starlet formed part of a defence that conceded just four goals in six UEFA Youth League games in 2014/15.
Speaking to the club’s website, Adarabioyo explained his defensive prowess, saying: “My elder brother, Fisayo, is a footballer as well.
“I’m a defender and he’s an attacker, so when we play together he always attacks me and I always defend against him.
“I’ve been playing against him since I was little, so I’ve always been a defender.”
3. Angus Gunn: goalkeeper, 19
When your father is none other than legendary Norwich City ‘keeper Bryan Gunn, you do not have to look hard for inspiration.
And Angus appears to be well on the way to following in his dad’s illustrious footsteps as he continues to establish himself as Patrick Viera’s number one choice in goal for the EDS side.
Having initially struggled with hip and shoulder injuries, Gunn shone last season and looks increasingly like the long-term replacement for current Manchester City and England ‘keeper, Joe Hart.
His hard work and talent have earned him places in various England youth team squads, but it was his recent call-up to join Gareth Southgate’s U21 that was particularly special.
Gunn became the first player from the new City Football Academy to earn a U21 call-up, and told the club’s website: “It was a really proud moment for me – I’m absolutely buzzing.
“Being the first City Academy player called up for a while probably does make it a bit more special.”
2. Cameron Humphreys: centre-back, 17
When charged with keeping Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Karim Benzema at bay this summer, Humphreys, then just 16, had a task few experienced pros would enjoy.
Yet it is the England U17 international’s innate calmness that persuaded manager Pellegrini to partner club captain Vincent Kompany with the promising young man from Moston.
Perennially unflustered, Humphreys has swiftly become Viera’s most trusted stalwart in defence, as the 6’2” stopper enjoyed a superlative 2014/15 season, earning himself a place with the first-team in pre-season.
Speaking of his happiness at making the trip Down Under, Humphreys said to City’s website: “I would have been happy just playing games for the U18s or hopefully the U21s, but to get to go with the first team was unbelievable.
“Patrick [Vieira] demands a lot of everyone and that makes you push yourself even harder.”
1. Brandon Barker: winger, 18
Along with Humphreys, Barker – a winger of bursting pace with three goals in five games for the England U19s – accompanied the first-team to Australia this summer, and the 2013/14 Academy Players’ Player of the Year was quick to make the most of his opportunity.
He featured against Italian giants AS Roma and City’s sister club, Melbourne City, on the trip, demonstrating why the local boy – who made his City U18 debut whilst still eligible for the U15s – has the whole Academy talking.
A lifelong fan, Barker has been at City since the age of eight, and emphasised his desire to fulfil his dreams with the club.
Speaking to the club’s website after earning his latest contract, he said: “I’ve been here 10 years in October so all I’ve ever wanted is to do well for City and this contract gives me the time to realise all my hopes.
“I need to take the chance when it comes along and that’s exactly what I intend to do.”
Image courtesy of Manchester CIty FC via YouTube, with thanks.