Real Madrid are reported to be interested in taking Brahim Diaz to Spain. The youngster has a year left on his contract with Manchester City and can leave on a free next summer. This has put many top clubs on red alert, including the European Champions. Diaz remains one of the hottest prospects to come out of the now famous City academy and is highly rated by the club.
Unfortunately, as was the case with Jadon Sancho, City and manager Pep Guardiola have not been able to persuade Diaz to put pen to paper on a new deal. The 19-year-old reportedly turned down a loan move to City-owned La Liga side Girona as he insisted on staying back to fight for his place in the team.
But the strength in depth of the City team means that his opportunities will be very limited in the first team. This could be used as good grounds by the player to leave the club. Although some reports suggest that the player does want to renew his contract, actions always speak louder than words. The reluctance to get it done suggests the young man is still weighing his options.
Diaz is in the same situation Sancho was in at City. The young Englishman refused to go out on loan and chose instead to run down his contract rather than sign a new one. He then moved to Borussia Dortmund on a free. For the youngster, it was either first team football at the club or the exit door. Guardiola could not guarantee him a place in the team and so he left. For such a promising player, that could be regarded a huge loss for the club.
The young Spaniard could also do same next summer. But of what benefit will be an academy if the brightest prospects out of it are allowed to leave to other rival clubs? There is scarcely any doubt at the Etihad Stadium that the midfielder is a star for the future and will become a first team regular if he stays on at the club.
However, the success of teenagers like Kylian Mbappe who is on top of the world at the moment, could also be a factor in other youngsters seeking first team football. Some may be looking at the Paris Saint-Germain star and thinking they can also be in that position. Ambition is not a bad thing, or is it?
But does that mean the young midfielder can move to Real Madrid and command a starting shirt? Far from it when you consider there are other youngsters already on the queue that may rank ahead of him. Players like wonderkid Martin Odegaard and young Brazilian Vinicius Junior.
All the same, like Sancho, he could move to another top club that will provide ample opportunity to feature more regularly for the first team. The abundance of attacking talent at City including fellow academy graduate Phil Foden means that Diaz may have even more limited opportunities than he had last term. With players like Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva still struggling for regular game time, he cannot expect otherwise.
So far, he has made just one appearance this season. That was a substitute appearance against Chelsea in the Community Shield. He did manage ten last term including one in the Champions League loss to Shakhtar Donetsk. But he is struggling for a place even on the substitutes bench this time around.
Although Chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak has made it clear he would like to see at least one youth player making the first team breakthrough each season, it is difficult to implement as many young players are becoming more and more unwilling to wait for long before having their turn.
All parties involved, including the player’s agent Pere Guardiola, will need to work together to sort out the issues involved and make the best decision for both club and player. The club’s vision of academy graduates developing alongside the big money acquisitions should be the guiding light on decisions made.
A win-win situation will see the player having the chance to play regular first-team football whether at the club or at another top club now. He should then have the chance to be part of the next generation that will lead the club to greater heights.