Man City keeping a watchful eye on Gulf talent
Manchester City’s new academy chief Brian Marwood believes the Gulf will prove to be an “important market” as players flourish from better coaching and experience.
The impressive performances of the UAE age-group sides, in winning the Under-19 championship and starring at the Olympics last summer and now the Gulf Cup, have made people sit up and take notice of talent in the region.
City took UAE playmaker Omar Abdulrahman on trial after he starred at the Games, but the midfielder returned to his Pro League club Al Ain after shunning a move to the Etihad Stadium.
The only player from the Gulf in the English Premier League is Wigan’s Oman keeper Ali Al Habsi. But Marwood feels that will change as he said: “First, you need the raw basics to make it as a top professional and players from the Middle East have that now. Once you then give those players the right coaching they are fully equipped.
“The skill is there in the U-18, U-21 and U-23 teams and they have proved that at international tournaments. I think once the tactical awareness improves and they gain more experience it will become an important market.
"Feedback from the Manchester City School of Football in Abu Dhabi is great and it is not just us who are coaching youngsters out there – it is a growing market for a lot of clubs.
"There is such enthusiasm, not only for Manchester City, but for the English Premier League and football in general and it is a matter of time before we see players from there. Hopefully when that happens it will be good for Manchester City.”
City will continue to look at trialists, but Marwood added: “There is the challenge in terms of work permits and we have to be careful of bringing in players who we then have to loan out. We must always do things the right way.”