Manchester United and City will both compete in the launch of the inaugural UEFA Youth League next month, an under-19 tournament exclusively for the clubs involved in the Champions League.
The tournament is similar to that of the Champions League, and the group stage will mirror the groups drawn tomorrow.
The competition promises to bring together Europe’s best young talent and will allow them to experience different philosophies of football that they wouldn’t have otherwise experienced.
UEFA President Michel Platini said: “We believe the UEFA Youth League is an attractive additional proposition for UEFA Champions League clubs.
“We have now created a competitive opportunity for youth players to be involved in international matches at club level. It allows us to provide a development opportunity and great experience.”
The competition will allow City and United to gauge the progress of their academy training against the established and successful programmes such as Ajax and Barcelona.
On the Manchester City website, Elite Development Squad Assistant Manager Simon Davies said: “We have now created a competitive opportunity for youth players to be involved in international matches at club level.
“It allows us to provide a development opportunity and great experience not only for the players, but also for referees, who will be appointed on an international basis.
“Where we’ve learned the most, especially with the younger academy teams, is when we’ve played abroad.”
“We’re not the finished article by any means, but locally we play well and win against the majority of English teams – like I say, we’ve still got work to do, but the biggest challenge for us is going to Benfica, Ajax and Barcelona and competing there at the very top level.”
The eight group winners and eight runners up will participate in the knockout rounds where the competition will be decided by one-off games.
Both United’s and City’s senior and junior teams will be holding their breath on Thursday as the Champions League draw is live at 5.45pm.
Image courtesy of dannymx via Flickr, with thanks.