The Premier League champions are intent on complying with the impending new Financial Fair Play regulations and Marwood, the club’s sporting director, has revealed the long-term goal is to produce their own players through the youth system and put the brakes on owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan’s financial investment.
Mansour has always been determined to replicate Barcelona’s famed academy that over the years has produced players including Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi, and Marwood is confident that the new centre can ensure City can develop future superstars.
He said: “We’ve done it [spent big], but it’s not the long-term plan. What we are trying to do here is to lessen the spend in future years by increasing the quality we get through the system.
“We can’t expect our owners to continue spending at the rate we have been for the last three or four years. This is where we have to start. We have to change.”
Despite the £100 million being pumped into the project, the statistics suggest City will have to wait longer than two years. Last season only 43 British players under the age of 21 made their first-team debuts and the potential problem of bringing youngsters through the system led to the Premier League initiating the Elite Player Performance Plan, designed to produce more top-quality home-grown players. The problem is not just confined to the big spenders, either. Last weekend West Bromwich Albion started with 11 players from as many different countries in their game against Queens Park Rangers.
But Marwood is optimistic that the building blocks are in place at City, as they aim to introduce one ideology throughout all age groups. “The one thing I was impressed with from day one was the long-term vision,” he said.
“It wasn’t about what was going to happen tomorrow, it was about what was going to happen for the next 10 or 20 years and that had to impact on youth development and on the facility that was hopefully befitting where we wanted to take this club.
“We’re very proud of the history of the academy of this club so I think he [Sheikh Mansour] knew he was getting an academy that had produced a lot of good young players. Where he was trying to take this club, was to raise the bar whether it’s the first team or academy. To do that you have to implement a number of things that will take us to that level; to produce young players that can play alongside the likes of Yaya Touré or David Silva – hopefully the new site can help us do this.”