Brahim Diaz shines for Man City yet contract saga rolls on

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The 19-year-old scored both of the Blues' goals in their 2-0 victory over Fulham in the Carabao Cup, a reminder of his talent and potential

A giant picture of Brahim Diaz, face wild with celebration, is plastered on one side of the Etihad Stadium, and it may well stay there forever.

The picture commemorates the scenes following Gabriel Jesus' last-minute winner at Southampton on the final day of last season, the goal that clinched City's 100-point title win. Half of Pep Guardiola's squad, including substitutes, ended up dancing in front of the away end at St Mary's Stadium on that day, and the chosen image that adorns the northside of the Etihad shows Brahim and Raheem Sterling chasing after the elated Jesus.

The Brazilian's role in that record-breaking season will never be forgotten, and neither will Sterling's, with the England winger contributing various vital goals throughout. He is set to sign a new five-year deal at the club , meaning he is likely to be part of the furniture for some time to come.

Yet future visitors to the Etihad may ask who the other guy is. Brahim, then 18, played just a bit-part role as City swept all before them, and indeed he was only on the pitch at Southampton to bring him up to five league appearances, so he would be eligible for a medal.

That lack of minutes plays a large part in why his future at the club is in considerable doubt. Ever since he signed from from Malaga at 14 years old, having been snatched from under the noses of Barcelona despite Pep Guardiola showing him around Camp Nou dressing room, the nimble forward has been earmarked for a first-team place in the City side.

Over the years he has lit up City's youth teams, and along with Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho, he made up a trident of talent tipped to make it big.

Yet right now he is looking more Sancho than Foden.

Brahim Diaz Manchester City Fulham Pep Guardiola

Foden will be given if not every chance then a very good one of making it at his boyhood club. He will not play as many Premier League minutes as he might elsewhere due to the sheer quality of his competition, but he has now shown in two Carabao Cup games this season that he is fantastically talented, and that he appears to understand the all-important Guardiola-system.

Sancho, however, found himself in a contract dispute that ended his time at the club before it had even really begun, and he is now showcasing his talents with Borussia Dortmund and the England national side. He is the one that got away for City and his seemingly constant flow of goals and assists in the Bundesliga will be a reminder of what the club are missing.

The suspicion is that Brahim feels he could be doing the same. He is out of contract next summer and, while there is a new offer on the table, the Spaniard is not prepared to sign it right now. City, having signed Riyad Mahrez in the summer, wanted to loan the youngster out for the current campaign, preferably to sister club Girona, but he did not want to go. He felt that if City believed he had a future at the club at all then they would find room for him.

Patently, with Sterling, Mahrez and Leroy Sane fit and firing, that is not going to be the case just yet. Perhaps it should be, but it isn't. Foden is willing to bide his time but it appears Brahim is not.

His agent is Pere Guardiola, the manager's brother, though that does not seem to be enough to ensure all parties are happy just yet.

A host of clubs have made it known that they would be willing to sign him, while Real Madrid are always linked with a move because they approached the youngster years ago to say that if he ever fancied leaving City he should give them a call.

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Whether the Santiago Bernabeu is the best place for his development or not right now is another matter entirely, but they are far from the only club keeping an eye on the situation.

And those clubs will all have taken notice of his two goals for City on Thursday  night in the Carabao Cup. For City it will be a reminder of his talents, for the player it will be vindication for his own beliefs that he is ready for more action. 

These were his first senior goals for the club. The opener was deflected, the second emphatic. He celebrated each of them as wildly as the other, and indeed as wildly as Jesus' down in Southampton.