Manchester City plan raid for Barcelona youngsters

The Premier League champions' new CEO is looking to pick the best young talent from his former side as the Citizens look to the future
By Greg Stobart

Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano is eyeing a raid on former club Barcelona for the Spanish giants’ emerging stars.

Soriano started on September 1 as City’s replacement for the disgraced Garry Cook largely due to his work as vice-president of Barcelona between 2003 and 2008.

As City plan a transfer strategy to comply with Uefa’s financial fair play regulations, Soriano and manager Roberto Mancini are considering cherry-picking the best young talent from Barcelona's famous La Masia academy.

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The likes of Sergi Roberto, Gerard Deulofeu and Cristian Tello have all been mentioned as potential targets, with Soriano privy to the players’ contractual information, including wages and buy-out clauses.

Reports in Spain have also suggested that Soriano wants to sign one of Barcelona’s major stars such as Xavi or David Villa, but far more likely is the prospect of City buying younger players on cheap deals.

City announced on Friday that they have started work on a £100 million, state-of-the-art training centre adjacent to the Etihad Stadium that they hope will lead them to the summit of world football.

It marks a shift in the club’s focus towards recruiting, nurturing and developing the best young talent in the game.

That will concern clubs across Europe as City attempt to focus on academy development under their Abu Dhabi owners, with Sheikh Mansour having spent more than £1 billion (€1.2bn) on the club since his takeover in 2008.

Soriano is considered key to City's strategy after being credited with overseeing a huge improvement in Barcelona’s off-field activities, while the 44-year-old also has a vast number of contacts in the game and has intimate knowledge of La Masia, which is considered the most productive academy in Europe.

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