Last summer Eric Garcia emerged as a potential part of Pep Guardiola’s plans at Manchester City.
It was his attitude and performances on the pre-season tour including games against Dortmund, Liverpool and Bayern Munich that convinced the City manager that he had what it took to step up to the senior team. Starts in the quarter-final and semi-final of the Carabao Cup followed, and the 18-year-old can expect more first-team opportunities next season.
Chances for academy players may be more scarce this summer given the wealth of senior players that will be available. However, some youngsters were late callups last year after impressing as pre-season began in Manchester, and there is no shortage of prospects hoping to follow in Garcia’s footsteps and leave a lasting impression on the manager.
Here’s a handful still waiting for their first taste of first team action that could be this year’s surprise package.
Taylor Harwood-Bellis, 17
Given the success of a young centre-back on the last tour, what chance of another? Stockport stopper Harwood-Bellis had a terrific year in the academy, playing up at Under-18 and Under-23 level with a composure that belied his age.
He was unlucky to be on the losing team in the FA Youth Cup final after a Herculean effort and captained England at the Under-17 European Championship last month.
Jeremie Frimpong, 18
City could be light on full-backs at some point in the summer and Frimpong has been unfazed by any challenge that has has faced on the pitch. His pace is enough to make both defenders and attackers nervous as he flies up and down the right touchline, and looks like there is a lot more potential with the right coaching.
Nathanael Ogbeta, 18
Often found on the opposite flank to Frimpong and no less a problem for opposition sides as he patrols the left-hand side of the pitch. Benjamin Mendy will look to prove his fitness in pre-season but with City not looking to improve the position in the transfer market there could be opportunities in that position in the four friendlies.
Iker Pozo, 18
Young brother of striker Jose Pozo, who briefly broke into the City team under Manuel Pellegrini, Iker is a tenacious midfielder adept at cutting off attacks and turning the game round for his team.
Guardiola has tried and failed to find his successor to Fernandinho a number of times. If there is no signing announced before the tour, Pozo could be worth a look at least to find out his level.
Nabil Touaizi, 18
Brought to Manchester two-and-a-half years ago after breaking scoring records at Valencia, Touaizi started last season with consecutive hat-tricks in the Premier League 2.
Playing as a striker in City teams that are usually at a physical disadvantage in youth football can be a thankless task but the Spaniard has developed over the last 12 months and also has pace and skill to compensate.