With more money come added responsibilities, and the Manchester City hierarchy have certainly invested their money well. With state-of-the-art training facilities and an improved academy system, City are producing young talents like Liam Delap and Cole Palmer who look set to have a breakthrough year in 2022.
The 2020-21 Premier League champions have enjoyed a brilliant first half to the 2021-22 season, as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City sit nine points clear at the top of the Premier League table, having won an astonishing 18 out of their 23 games. Pep’s men are firing on all cylinders, and it would take a catastrophic dip in form for their nearest challengers to make up lost ground.
However, as the fixture congestion dies down for a bit and we brace ourselves for the European nights to make a much-awaited return, here I take a look at five Manchester City youngsters who could break into the first-team squad in 2022. The following players, I believe, are those who could earn more than sporadic minutes by the end of the current 2021/22 campaign—and potentially be even better next season.
Winchester-born 18-year-old Liam Rory Delap is another young prospect at Manchester City. Delap joined Manchester City’s academy in 2019 from Derby County after impressing in the youth ranks and earning several England call-ups for various youth levels.
Liam Delap is a 6ft-1in-tall centre-forward. He is predominantly a right-footer but has a decent left foot as well. He has already lit up the U18 Premier League with his exquisite link-up play and clinical finishing for the Cityzens.
Delap made his senior debut for Man City in a 2-1 home win against AFC Bournemouth in the EFL Cup while also scoring his first senior-level goal in the 18th minute. Manager Pep Guardiola sang his praises after the game and confirmed Delap would continue training with the first team.
On 29 March 2021, Delap received a call-up to the England U18 squad as he made his debut against Wales in a 2-0 away win at Leckwith Stadium.
Cole Jermaine Palmer is a 19-year-old English player and a boyhood Manchester City fan who joined the club at the U8 level and progressed through the academy ranks before making his first-team debut in a 3-0 win for City over Burnley in the fourth round of the 2020-21 EFL Cup.
Palmer is a versatile attacking player who can operate both as an attacking midfielder or further up front as a striker. Apart from his technical abilities, the City academy graduate also possesses leadership qualities, having captained the Man City U18s in the 2019-20 season.
Palmer also represented the England U17 team at the 2019 UEFA European Championship before earning his first England U21 call-up in August 2021. He capped off his debut with a beautiful solo goal in a 2-0 U21 Euro qualifying win over Kosovo.
The Salford-born Man City academy graduate is another youngster who is making all the right noises coming through the junior City ranks. At 19, James McAtee is already an exceptional talent in my opinion, although his rawness and lack of physical attributes to survive in the Premier League might be the only reason why Guardiola has so far restrained himself from exposing the 19-year-old.
McAtee operates in the space behind the central striker as an attacking midfielder and has a silky left foot that oozes class. He has excellent vision and positional awareness for his age and as well as an eye for goal.
McAtee made his first-team debut as a substitute in City’s 6-1 home win over Wycombe Wanderers in the EFL Cup, while he made his Premier League debut coming on as a substitute for Cole Palmer in a 3-0 home win over Everton on 21 November 2021.
The 19-year-old has also represented England in the youth levels, having made his U18 debut in a 4-4 draw against Norway where he scored a brace. On 21 September 2021, he scored again, this time in his U20 debut as England thrashed Romania 6-1 at home.
Born in Manchester, 20-year-old Thomas Doyle joined City’s academy at the age of eight, having started his footballing path with Sandbach United FC at the age of four.
A versatile midfielder who can fit in any position across the centre of the pitch, Doyle is technically gifted and possesses great control on the ball. He has outstanding vision and intelligence to lay off killer balls through to a teammate.
Doyle was a revelation in the youth ranks as he won three successive Premier League Player of the Tournament awards at U18 and Premier League 2 levels. He earned his first cap for Man City at the age of 18, while a few months later he committed his long-term future to the club by signing a five-year deal that would keep him at the club until 2025.
Before the closure of the 2021 summer transfer window, Doyle joined 2. Bundesliga club Hamburg on a season-long loan, although it was cut short and he is now on loan at Cardiff City until the end of the season.
Manchester City roped in arguably one of the hottest young talents in Brazilian football when they signed 18-year-old Kayky da Silva Chagas on a €10 million deal last summer.
A left-footed right-sided winger, Kayky is often compared to Neymar Jr. due to his dribbling abilities. The 18-year-old has bags of trickery under his sleeve and is not afraid to shoot from distance either. Kayky burst onto the scene on 11 April 2021 when he scored Fluminense’s opener in a 3-1 home win against Nova Iguaçu through an individual effort, having dribbled past four players.
In April last year, it was announced that Kayky would sign for Manchester City, with the transfer set to go through in January 2022. However, in August, it was announced that Kayky would join immediately, with Fluminense retaining a percentage of any future sale and add-ons.
On January 7, the 18-year-old Brazilian made his senior debut for City as a substitute for Cole Palmer in a 4-1 away win over League Two side Swindon Town in the third round of the 2022 FA Cup.