Brahim Diaz has made the most of his chance to impress with Manchester City‘s first team in pre-season, scoring a brilliant goal in the demolition of Real Madrid and another cheeky effort against Tottenham.
Diaz has been generating plenty of buzz with his performances for City’s youth sides, but supporters can be forgiven for not knowing too much about the 17-year-old, who has so far only played 10 minutes of first-team football at the club.
But the Spanish youth international justified the hype with a stunning finish against Los Blancos.
Diaz joined City from Malaga officially in 2015 in an initial deal worth £300,000, which could rise to around £2.4million, though the move had been in place since 2013.
City had been made aware of the youngster by former boss Mauricio Pellegrino, who had witnessed the attacking midfielder’s talents first-hand while manager of the La Liga outfit.
In truth, Diaz has been attracting attention throughout pretty much all of his life.
Aged seven, he joined Malaga from junior side Tiro Pichon, and three years later he was invited to visit Barcelona, where he was shown around the Nou Camp by Lionel Messi and, in a strange twist of fate, current manager Pep Guardiola.
Despite interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona, Malaga managed to keep hold of their prized asset with the promise that he would be in the first team by the age of 16.
City eventually won the race, and Diaz was handed his debut with a 10-minute cameo against Swansea in the League Cup last September, though he could spend next season on loan back in La Liga, either with former club Malaga or newly-promoted Girona.
Spain’s national federation have already broken their own rule of only selecting players from clubs in Spain to represent their youth teams when they called up Diaz for the Under-17 European Championships.
Speaking to Goal, Malaga academy director Manel Casanova said: “We saw that he was a kid who was different. He’s a player with great vision. He starts three steps ahead of the others.
“When he receives the ball, he already has three options to carry out. When you are like that they don’t know if you’re going to go left or right.”
Former Leeds assistant and current Oxford boss Pep Clotet, who saw Diaz as a coach at Malaga, said: “I remember many games he was playing above his age; he was very, very good.
“He was very good tactically, very good technically. Normally the really good players achieve that level when they are 15, 16, 17. Very few players achieve it when they are 12 or 13, and he was one of them.”
Casanova has suggested that Diaz’s heart will always be set on playing for Barcelona, but Manchester currently appears his ideal club after he joked last year: “I don’t like to play in the sun; it makes me tired sometimes.”
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