Manchester City may be doing quite well at the moment, but that has not stopped the club hierarchy from planning for the future. Nine signings were made last summer as seven stars departed the club. One of the new signings Yan Couto (like several others) has come in with high expectations. The 18-year-old right-back has been compared to former Barcelona defender and fellow countryman Dani Alves.
That speaks to his talent and the weight of expectations on his shoulders. Couto proved his quality in the last Under-17 World Cup in 2019. He created more chances than any other player in the tournament, including an assist for Lazaro’s late winner in the 2-1 victory over Mexico in the final to help Brazil emerge champions.
It is not surprising then that top European sides were circling for his signature. With the opportunity to go to either Barcelona or Bayern Munich, the right-back preferred Man City. He has revealed the appeal of playing under Pep Guardiola also played a significant role in the decision.
“After the U17 World Cup that we won with Brazil, some clubs were interested in me: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City,” Couto told Goal after being named on the 2021 NXGN list of the top 50 wonderkids in world football.
“To me, Pep Guardiola is the best manager in the world, and Manchester City is one of the best clubs in the world at the moment, with a bright future. Therefore, to me, it was the best choice.”
With the right-back position at City well-stocked at the moment, Couto was sent on loan to Spanish second division side Girona. It has not been easy adjusting to life in a new league and country altogether. After securing a £5 million ($7m) move to City in March 2020, he was met with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, with the passage of time things have gradually returned to near-normal. He has so far made 12 appearances for the Segunda Division side currently placed eighth on the league table. He is growing into the team and scored his first professional goal in a recent win over Las Palmas.
He reflected on his journey so far as he prepares for a future that already looks quite bright.
“I always loved watching European football.”
“Because of the time difference, I used to wake up early in the morning so I could watch the Premier League, La Liga or Serie A. It was always a dream to come to play here one day.
“When I first arrived in Europe, at the beginning it was difficult. Because of the pandemic, I couldn’t train or play games at my last club in Brazil, so when I arrived my physical fitness wasn’t the best.
“I had to work hard to get back to my ideal fitness level. Because of Covid, we can’t do many things at the moment outside football.
“But I think I have worked really hard since I landed in Europe and I feel fine fitness-wise, almost at my full fitness.”
It is unlikely Couto will be brought into the first-team picture at the Etihad Stadium this summer. With Kyle Walker still around, and Joao Cancelo playing his best football at the moment, the position is covered. But the Englishman will be 31 in May. So his days in the City shirt may be numbered. Couto could be presented with the opportunity to step in, in just over a year or two if he is ready.