Will new acquisition Yan Couto fulfil potential at Manchester City?
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Manchester City announced the acquisition of young Brazilian full-back Yan Couto, as the team prepared to take on Aston Villa in the League Cup last Sunday. The highly-rated 17-year-old, who has been compared to Dani Alves, is expected to be among the next generation of Brazilian players set to rule the world in the coming years. But the teenager, who was acquired from his hometown club Coritiba, is moving to a City side jam-packed with world-class talent. That has made it difficult for youngsters to break into the first team.
Phil Foden gave a man-of-the-match performance as Manchester City secured a third successive League Cup trophy on Sunday. But the young Englishman has seen his chances in City's first team largely curtailed as a result of the abundance of more experienced top-class players at the Etihad Stadium. Even at that, the 19-year-old was fast-tracked into the first team by the Catalan manager. Most of his peers have not been that lucky. Some chose to leave the club.
The most high-profile departure has been Jadon Sancho, who left for Borussia Dortmund in search of regular first-team football. But others like Brahim Diaz and Rabbi Matondo have also followed suit. However, Foden's experience could also mean things can change. But that may not happen anytime soon.
Although Pep Guardiola has a defensive problem at the moment and will be looking to strengthen in the summer, it's not likely he will turn to a young inexperienced Couto as a solution. That's especially so as the Brazilian youth international is a right-back. City is currently well-stocked in the position with Kyle Walker holding sway as first choice. Joao Cancelo, a big-money summer signing has spent most of his time at the club on the bench. The Portuguese international was a starter at Juventus but has settled for second best at the Etihad Stadium.
Couto will be expected to join City's youth ranks to continue his development. The fact remains though, that for any young player patient enough, City's Elite Development Squad provides ample opportunity to grow. By the time the youngster moves to City in the summer, he will be 18. A few years in England will prepare him for the rigours of European football. But it's his performance that will determine what chances he gets.
Whatever the case, he must be ready to bide his time and wait for his opportunity to join the senior team. That may also require some loan spells. Fellow countryman Gabriel Jesus was able to get into the mix coming straight from Brazil. However, the former Palmeiras man was already a household name as he aided his former side to the domestic title. Also, he joined City at a time there was a clear need for Sergio Aguero's back up as Guardiola was not satisfied with Kelechi Iheanacho's output.
But Couto is a signing for the future. The Cityzens are having problems with UEFA at the moment over accusations of Financial Fair Play rules violations. Whether or not the club is found guilty by the Court of Arbitration for Sports, the after-effect will be a reduction in excessive spending on ready-made players. That could force a shift in the club's transfer strategy. So the Brazilian may be the first in a long line of such signings to come.
Barcelona abandoned the system and the team has struggled as a result in recent times. Real Madrid is renowned for splashing the cash on ready-made superstars. But the serial European champions have favoured the recruitment of a mix of youth and established players of late. The Spanish giants even took Brahim Diaz from the Etihad Stadium in January last year.
Couto's signing may be a reaction.
But with no space in the team for the player at the moment, the move signifies preparation for the future. However, his development in the years to come will determine if he makes it into and becomes a regular member of the senior team.