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Manchester City Youngster Dreaming of First Team Chances

Could an English youth international jump in to Pep’s plans?

Manchester City v Liverpool - UEFA Youth League Quarter-Final

It’s a fact that the competition for first team opportunities at Manchester City is quite brutal. With a locker room filled with world-class players, it’s difficult for any youngster to break into the team from the youth ranks.

Even exceptional talents like Phil Foden and Eric Garcia have had to bid their time while waiting for openings. For others like Jadon Sancho and Brahim Diaz, making a permanent move elsewhere was seen as the solution.

But others like Joel Latibeaudiere and Taylor Howard-Bells are holding onto the dream of one day becoming a regular in the senior side.

Latibeaudiere is currently on loan at Eredivisie side FC Twente. The 20-year-old is one of England’s most highly-rated young defenders, captaining the Under-17 side to a World Cup victory in 2017, alongside the likes of Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden. But just like Sancho and Diaz, he has been unable to break through to the first team at City. He was sent on a season-long loan to the Netherlands last summer.

The young Yorkshireman only featured six times for the club before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. But he managed to score his first professional goal and get an assist in a victory over PEC Zwolle. He now counts on his experience out on loan as a vital part of his development. When asked in an interview with TalkSport if he believes he has gained some priceless experience and if other young players should follow in his footsteps, he answered in the affirmative.

“100 per cent just because of the chances you get out there,” he stated.

“In Holland, the league isn’t as physical as the Premier League or the Championship, so I feel like the younger players get more of a chance.

“I would recommend going out there and playing football. You’re [also] learning a totally new style of European football; if you’re playing for the best teams, you’re going to be playing in Europe anyway, so you’ve already had that experience of European football and a brand new style.

“Just training with the first team every day and being in a first-team environment and even in the changing room has helped me a lot. But getting the minutes, playing in front of big crowds and playing against men [has really helped as well].

“Over there it was quite tactical so that was good to learn, and it was very different from what I was used to back in England. I think I benefited a lot and I think it was really important I made the decision to get out there on loan and get my first taste of professional football.

“It [the Eredivisie] was a lot more tactical. Because we weren’t one of the top teams in the Eredivisie, we had to try and get an edge tactically as well. So we would set up in different ways to press oppositions and different ways to play around and find their weaknesses. playing for the first-team.

“Now I’ve got a taste for it, it’s given me that motivation to know that I can do it myself. I’m just going to keep pushing myself now and try and get there.”

“Whereas, when I’m at City, we’re a dominant team, so we know we can play our way most of the time. It was good to learn how to play differently for different oppositions.”

Latibeaudiere’s contract at City is set to expire in the summer, but he still holds out hope of playing for the first-team.

He made this clear when asked about his plans for his career a year from now.

“Just to be playing regular first-team football and in the highest division possible,” he responded.

“Obviously, the dream would be playing for Man City’s first-team regularly.

“Now I’ve got a taste for it, it’s given me that motivation to know that I can do it myself. I’m just going to keep pushing myself now and try and get there.”

Latibeaudiere’s future at the club could be secured if he is able to impress manager Pep Guardiola on return from the loan spell. With City in need of defensive cover, he definitely has a huge opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the team.