After 18 years at Manchester City, Tosin Adarabioyo has left the club for Fulham on a permanent transfer. For a player that was born in Manchester, joined City aged five and progressed through the youth ranks at the club, much was expected.
He made his debut for the club’s senior team under former manager Manuel Pellegrini in 2016. With further appearances in the Champions League it looked like his breakthrough had finally come. But aged just 18 then, it was always going to be difficult to nail down a place in the senior side.
So despite initial praise received from Pep Guardiola when he took over, he ended up heading out on loan in 2018. Regular first team football is important for the development of any young player. He was therefore loaned to West Brom in the Championship. He made 28 appearances for the Baggies but couldn’t help them secure promotion to the top flight.
Another loan spell with Blackburn for the 2019/20 campaign ended the same way. This time he was a more influential player for the team filing out 34 times and finding the back of the net on three occasions. Now 23 and with game time under his belt, he could have expected to have a look in from the manager. Unfortunately, Guardiola was not interested.
His lack of involvement with the first team since returning from Blackburn made that clear. The inevitable outcome was a permanent departure. Having Started the campaign poorly with no win in the first four games, Fulham are looking for solutions. The Cottagers took advantage of the situation to make an approach.
City willingly let the player go permanently for a reported £2million fee. The player is happy he can now play Premier League football. But watching another academy graduate leave the Etihad Stadium for cheap raises some questions.
Could both club and player have been a bit more patient? Was the player given enough chance in the team to prove himself? Is a separation the best option for both parties at this point?
Of course not every academy graduate can play for the senior squad. With the stakes so high in the Premier League, only the best can make it into the team. But several factors can affect a player’s chances, beyond just his talent. Jadon Sancho will remain a reference point in this regard.
The Englishman was not given a chance by the manager but his move to Borussia Dortmund has been a revelation. Few years down the road, he is now easily one of the best players in the world. Perhaps a two-year loan deal with an option to buy would have been a better deal for City before deciding to sell outright.
As for Adarabioyo, could a year in the City team have been a better option while letting Eric Garcia leave? The Spanish centre-back is disgruntled at the moment for being denied a move back to his boyhood club. From a business standpoint, £15million or £18million from Barcelona would have been a good deal for the club.
Garcia’s place in the squad would have been filled by Adarabioyo who could have been given a two-year extension. Or let go for free at the end of the campaign if he failed to impress.
From a sporting standpoint, while the Spaniard has had excellent days in the City shirt, he has also been poor in games. Some of City’s worst defeats in recent times have occurred with him at the back. Recall the Blues’ 3-1 defeat to Lyon and the 5-2 thrashing by Leicester City. So he is by no means an exceptional talent, or at least not a finished article yet (something he shares with Tosin).
Besides, the manager would do better without a player who has already expressed his desire to leave the club. The Catalan boss has repeated several times that he does not want players in his squad who do not want to be there. Why hold on to Garcia then? This was the perfect opportunity to give Adarabioyo a closer look in before making the final decision at the end of the campaign.
Clearly, selling the Manchester-born defender was not the best decision given the prevailing circumstances. However, the 23-year-old will need to prove in the years to come that he deserved to have a future as a first team player at the Etihad Stadium.