Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola speaks to Phil Foden during the Carabao Cup, Fourth Round match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Where are they now? The 10 youngest players handed their debut by Pep Guardiola

No manager in football history has spent more in the transfer market than Pep Guardiola, who has bought dozens of proven superstars across his time at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. But he’s also not been afraid to turn to youth when necessary. 

Some exceptional footballers were given their first opportunities in football by the Catalan coach. But what became of the most prodigiously talented prospects that made their debuts before they were old enough to buy a pint?

Here are the 10 youngest players to have made their debuts under Guardiola, listed in order of their age when they first made it onto the pitch for a senior, professional game.

Rico Lewis

The left-back made his professional bow off the bench in a 4-0 victory over Bournemouth in August 2022.

Aged 17 years, eight months and 23 days, Lewis had already established a reputation as one of Manchester City’s finest academy prospects after captaining their Under-18s to the league title the season prior.

A couple of months later, Lewis became the youngest player to score on his Champions League debut, breaking the record previously held by Karim Benzema.

He looked incredibly exciting in his early appearances but ended up playing a fringe role in City’s historic treble-winning campaign as Guardiola turned away from using traditional full-backs.

Still, Lewis looks like he has a big future at his boyhood club. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops in the coming years.

Gianluca Gaudino

The only Bayern player to feature here, former Germany youth international Gaudino never quite broke through to the elite level after making a handful of appearances under Guardiola.

The midfielder made his debut for the Bavarian club aged 17 years 09 months 11 days in a 4-1 DFB Pokal victory over lower-league minnows Preussen Munster in August 2014.

Gaudino made eight Bundesliga appearances that season before being loaned out to St. Gallen and eventually sold to Chievo. He now finds himself a free agent after a one-season stint with Swiss club Lausanne-Sport.

Romeo Lavia

Few remember Lavia ever playing for Guardiola’s City, and that’s became his first-team appearances were eminently forgettable – a seven-minute cameo in a 4-1 FA Cup win over Swindon and 90 minutes in a 6-1 FA Cup win over Wycombe.

The Belgian has since made a name for himself after shining for an otherwise dysfunctional Southampton side. He netted the club a very healthy profit after moving to Chelsea for a £58million fee.

City signed Kalvin Phillips for £45million the summer that they let Lavia go. They might well have been better served to integrate Lavia, given Phillips’ apparent failure to convince Guardiola.

READ: The £442million Man City have made from selling academy graduates under Pep Guardiola

Gerard Deulofeu

The La Masia graduate had turned out for Barca B as a 16-year-old under Luis Enrique before making his first-team La Liga debut at 17 years, seven months and 16 days in October 2011 – a second-half substitute in a 5-0 victory over Mallorca.

Deulofeu only made two appearances totalling 47 minutes under Guardiola and forged his path elsewhere, most notably in the Premier League with Everton and Watford. But between loans and buy-backs he was off-and-on with Barcelona until 2018, when he finally departed for good.

He’s now fairly settled at Udinese and into his fourth season with the Serie A club.

Taylor Harwood-Bellis

Twenty-one-year-old centre-back Harwood-Bellis is one City youth product that they’ve not yet cashed in on, although he’s had almost as many loans away (five) than appearances for his parent club (eight) – all of which have come in cup competitions.

The defender made his City debut aged 17, seven months and 25 days in a routine 3-0 League Cup victory away to Preston.

He’s since gained vast experience at other clubs and is now at Southampton, aiming for back-to-back Championship promotions after impressing at Vincent Kompany’s Burnley last term.

Liam Delap

Son of long throw specialist Rory, striker Liam joined City’s youth set-up from Derby back in 2019.

Like his England Under-21s team-mate Harwood-Bellis, Delap remains on City’s books but is developing his game with senior experience out on loan. He’s currently at Hull City after prior stints with Preston and Stoke.

The 20-year-old made the first of his six appearances for Guardiola’s City in a 2-1 League Cup win over Bournemouth in September 2020.

Phil Foden

Doing alright for himself, isn’t he?

READ: Where are they now? Man City’s star-studded XI from the 2017 FA Youth Cup final

Adrian Bernabe

A relatively lesser-known name, Spanish midfielder Bernabe played five minutes of a 3-0 League Cup victory over Oxford United (there are a lot of these, aren’t there?) as a 17-year-old back in 2018.

He made a further four cup appearances for City, totalling less than 90 minutes, and never quite made the grade. He left the club in 2021 and has been turning out for Serie B club Parma ever since.

Marc Muniesa

Guardiola’s youngest debutant at Barcelona, Muniesa made his La Liga debut a month after his 17th birthday – although it was one to forget with a sending-off in a 1-0 home defeat to Osasuna, albeit a dead rubber as they closed in on the treble in May 2009.

The defender had been a mainstay of Barca B but only progressed to make four appearances for the first team before leaving to sign for Stoke City in 2013. Stints at Girona and Qatari outfit Al-Arabi followed and in August Muniesa signed a two-year deal with Danish Superliga club Lyngby BK.

Brahim Diaz

The youngest-ever player to make an appearance under Guardiola, Diaz had joined City from Malaga for a £200,000 fee when he was just 16.

His senior debut arrived in September 2016 as a late substitution for Kelechi Iheanacho in a 2-1 League Cup win away to Swansea City. The Spanish midfielder was 17 years, one month and 17 days old at the time.

He remained on the fringes of Guardiola’s squad until 2019 but had only notched five Premier League games before he was sold to Real Madrid for £15.5million, netting City a considerable profit.

Diaz is now part of Carlo Ancelotti’s Los Blancos squad, back with his parent club after three seasons and over a century of appearances on loan with AC Milan.

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