Pep Guardiola has defended Manchester City’s youth record after academy product Brahim Diaz left for Real Madrid in a £21 million deal.
The 19-year-old was highly rated by the club but has followed winger Jadon Sancho out of the Etihad after the England international left in the summer of 2017, going on to make a huge impact at Borussia Dortmund.
Sources said that Brahim was frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities but Guardiola said young players must be patient at leading clubs.
“They win the opportunity [to play] on the field but you have to take a look at all the big clubs in Europe how many young players are in the first team,” Guardiola told a news conference ahead of City’s Carabao Cup semifinal clash with Burton Albion.
“The young players need time. David Silva, for example, was loaned to other before he became what he is right now, before he came us. Some have patience, some trust what the club want to do, and some don’t.
“There are many clubs in the world, not just Manchester City and people decide. What we have to do if we believe they have a chance [to make it] is do everyting, train with us and trust us and then they, their families, their agents decide what is best for the player and that’s all.”
Brahim would have expected to start Wednesday night’s clash with League One Burton having played in the three previous rounds, scoring both goals in the 2-0 win over Fulham.
The Spain under-21 international was part of Guardiola’s first team squad, despite not playing any minutes in the Premier League or Champions League, but the City boss has no plans to sign a replacement.
“We are in four competitions so everybody plays,” he said, “Everyone is involved, we are playing every three or four days and we need everybody. But I don’t want people who don’t want to stay and try to achieve with us. “If you want to stay it’s because you want to stay. If not the door is open.
“The only one who decided to stay is Phil [Foden]. We wish Brahim all the best and moving to Real Madrid is no bad step and hopefully he can get the minutes he wants. We wish him the best but congratulations to the academy for working so well.”
Foden is set to start the Burton clash with Guardiola having virtually a full squad to choose from. Benjamin Mendy, who has been out for two months with a knee injury, could be fit to return to first-team training in the next two-to-three weeks.
Meanwhile, Guardiola refused to be drawn on Liverpool’s exit from the FA Cup with the Premier League leaders fielding a weakened team.
But he did dismiss suggestions that he asked the grass to be left long for the 2-1 victory over Liverpool.
“I’m not the greenkeeper,” Guardiola added. “I never did [ask], if they want to play quick, we want to play quicker.
“Always we try to put water on the grass but it’s not necessary here. We want to cut the field so it’s better conditions for both teams.
“We have to respect them with the rules. I never speak with the groundsman. I have many issues to think about. I trust the groundsman, I never made a phone call to say do damage to our opponents.”