Manchester City are looking to find the best path for their young talent away from the Etihad this season.
Manchester City’s strategy of giving their players more time off than many rivals and starting pre-season later has been repeated this summer. That has resulted in a shorter tour, with the Blues starting at West Ham after only three friendlies, including the hard-fought Community Shield.
There were many positives to be had from the trip to the United States, but playing only two matches did little for the group’s promising young players. Liam Delap, James McAtee, and Kayky were all available for loan during the transfer window, but they were all invited to start pre-season and travel with the Blues to try to catch Pep Guardiola’s eye — only to get a passing glance.
McAtee is set to join Sheffield United, but his arrival comes after the Blades have already begun their Championship campaign; Tommy Doyle, another City midfielder, arrived at Bramall Lane on July 4. Meanwhile, Delap has yet to find a club.
City clearly value Delap, as he turned down a £16 million bid from Southampton this summer, reiterating that he is not for sale. After it appeared for a few years that he did not fit the mold of a Guardiola player, there is now a huge, hulking No.9 in the squad who will be at the heart of City’s game.
There is undeniable merit in Delap having closely watched Erling Haaland, but the reality is that a player who smashed the Under-23s goal record two seasons ago before being sidelined by injury in his last campaign is in desperate need of a new challenge to see how easily he can take the next step in senior football.
It’s been two years since his debut for City, and the former Derby County youngster has outgrown the Under-23s football he’d have to play again if he stayed at the Etihad.
The Championship appears to be the best test as the club explores options, but City will have to find a club that is still looking for something rather than having their pick of options as they would have if they had sorted something out sooner. Stoke and Vincent Kompany’s Burnley have ties to the Etihad, but there may be better options available.
City’s priority in the transfer window will understandably be a left-back for the first team squad, but they could also do with arranging a good loan for Delap if they want to see him progress further. A temporary switch for Kayky would also be beneficial, though this is less urgent because he still requires the best possible conditions to adapt to English football.
City are just a few deals away from having a fantastic summer after doing so much good business already.