It’s the news that has even got Manchester United legend Paul Scholes worrying about whether they will remain the most popular club in the city.
Manchester City opened their brand new £200million state-of-the-art training complex last week, an 80-acre site connected to the Etihad Stadium boasting a selection of world class facilities.
The project, bankrolled by City’s wealthy owners and built in partnership with Manchester City Council, was conceived following the takeover of the Premier League club by Sheikh Mansour in 2008.
City, twice winners of the Premier League in the past three years, have invested over £1billion on players since then and currently boast a superior squad to United.
Scholes, who was part of United’s famous youth squad of 1992 that included famous players such as David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, believed more youngsters could now be attracted to join City.
“It has been no secret among people I know in football that City have taken great strides in their youth academy programmes,” Scholes recently wrote in his Independent column.
“There are even United players past and present who have, or at least once had, sons at City’s academy.”
City’s complex echoes the famous youth structure that is already in place at Barcelona, a club renowned for producing a conveyer belt of world-class talent including home-grown players such as Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Scholes’ opinion contradicts the views of current United manager Louis van Gaal, who actually managed Barcelona himself from 1997-2000, along with Dutch side Ajax who are also renowned for their youth academy.
“The building and accommodation [at the training ground] is not so important. The philosophy and staff are, and then you have to work with the talents,” he argued in a press conference.
City will be hoping to replicate Barcelona, moulding their own talent from prospective footballers as young as eight years old.
But the club have very little history of producing world-class talent, with players such as Micah Richards being one of the only notable players produced in the past 15 years.
In that time, regular international players such as Gerard Pique, Paul Pogba and Danny Welbeck have passed through United’s academy.
Patrick Vieira, City’s elite development squad, suggested the complex would help City attract the best talent in the world but it is hard to tell what will happen without any past tradition.
United have a reputation for producing more players who have featured at the top level and are still a bigger global brand, which is a sway for many youngsters who dream of playing for the club.
But City are now one of the wealthiest clubs in the world, and can provide comprehensive financial packages for any youngster and their family to live comfortably in Manchester.
It is not hard to see the club as one of football’s global superpowers in the distant future, challenging United for their global crown.
Therefore, it is conceivable to think City could overtake United in terms of popularity, a win for money over tradition?
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