Brahim Diaz could be forgiven for wanting to return back to Spain after leaving home for a foreign league at a very young age. But expecting to nail down a spot in Manchester City’s starting XI at 19 when competing against some of the best players in the world was nothing short of wishful thinking.
Perhaps worse than that was the hope of getting regular playing time at Real Madrid. In fact, it’s in the realm of fantasy to hope for a key role at the Santiago Bernabeu when you can barely feature at the Etihad Stadium. Except, of course, you belong to an exclusive class that comprises the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or even Kylian Mbappe.
For most other players, it's simply not going to happen. That’s because of the array of stars present and the level of competition at the club.
For sure, the young winger is a promising talent. Given the right conditions and application, he has a bright future in the game. That explains why City bet on him in the first place. But an over-bloated idea of his talent made him force a move to Madrid by choosing to run down his contract at City.
Like Jadon Sancho before him, Diaz was desperate for first team football. Pep Guardiola gradually eased him into the first team which afforded him an opportunity to feature 21 times. But he was determined to leave, refusing to sign a contract extension.
City should be commended for extracting a handsome fee of around £15m for the player at the time. That’s because the move had become inevitable with just months left on his contract. The club’s negotiating team did an excellent job that could pay even more dividends.
Diaz was shipped out to AC Milan on loan after a short stay at Madrid. He spent last season at the Serie A side and the loan deal has been extended for another two years. But this time it’s with an option to buy. The deal will set the Red and Blacks back €22m (£18.9m).
That means he would likely become an AC Milan player at the end of his loan spell. How will that benefit City?
Well, the smart negotiators at the Etihad Stadium inserted a little sell-on clause in the contract that entitles City to 15 percent of the fee.
That amounts to around £2.8m. And in the unlikely event that Manchester United decided to reunite him with Sancho, that sell-on percentage for City would increase to 40 percent.
Talk about a good return on investment after raising both players at the academy! Or maybe just a deterrent to the red side of Manchester.
This is all subject to what Real Madrid will choose to do though. The Spanish giants could decide to bring back the player from Italy after the two years are over. But that looks unlikely at the moment.
The more likely scenario will be Milan paying up after two years or the player being sold to another club if he fails to live up to expectations at San Siro. Either way, that will entitle Man City to 15 percent of whatever the sale price.
It’s a good way to be compensated for the efforts put into the player’s development while at the club.