Pep Guardiola has revealed that he will prioritise age in the transfer market in the coming years, the club website reports.
The Citizens have enjoyed a decent period of good performances by young players, with Gabriel Jesus being the most striking example, but still find themselves having the third oldest squad in the Premier League at an average of 28 years 1 month.
“We are buying for the long-term.” Pep said. “That’s why Leroy is here, why Raz is here and why Gabriel is here. All of them are 20 years old.
“Except in one or two cases when we need experience, the age is so important. Maybe we are going to buy a guy who is 28 or 29 years old because we are short in that position and he is going to give three or four important years – but of course, as young as possible is much better.”
City owners have infused over 150 million into the club academy since its opening in 2014, an amount which has put it into contention with the European elite. But Guardiola believes that it will ultimately come down to the players to break into the first team.
“I think Manchester City has to be proud. I am really impressed with the work of the English people, who’ve worked for a long time here at the Academy.
“There are four or five players - of course they are young, only 16, 17 and 18 years old – that we would like to put on the field and play them, because I know how important it is for the fans to have people who grew up in the Academy.
“We cannot put them in without the talent, or if they are not able or willing to take on that challenge, but if they’re good enough and they have a passion and they want to become something in Europe and world football, all the players in the Academy have to know we are there.
“In the summer four or five guys will come with us, but it’s up to them.”
Manchester City have enjoyed the presence of 18-year-old January signing Gabriel Jesus this season who was taking the Premier League by storm before suffering long-term injury setback.