Once upon a time, before the riches of Sheikh Mansour blessed the blue half of Manchester, Manchester City relied upon their academy system to bolster the senior squad, and one of the biggest success stories was the emergence of Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Shauny Wright Wright Wright, as he was affectionately known by supporters, didn’t start his youth career in Manchester. He was signed from Nottingham Forest’s academy as a 14-year-old in 1996, and from there he rose through the ranks to become one of the most exciting young players in English football.
Boasting electric pace, a burning desire to constantly take on his opposite number and a telling end product to match, Wright-Phillips rapidly commanded a heroic reputation on the terraces, and his decision to join Chelsea in 2005 was a bitterly disappointing transfer setback for the club.
The landscape at City, almost 15 years later, is radically different from the one which hosted Wright-Phillips’ development. With a superstar-laden squad at Pep Guardiola’s disposal, youth players face a near-impossible task breaking into the first-team, as Phil Foden’s struggle to earn a starting berth serves to illuminate.
But Guardiola has demonstrated a willingness to trust in youth in the past, and that should keep 18-year-old Rabbi Matondo motivated as he bids to make the step up to first-team football.
The dynamic speedster, who bears a similar style of play to that of Wright-Phillips, has scored six goals and provided three assists from nine appearances at youth level.
His electric record earned him a shock call-up to the Wales national side recently, and he earned his first cap in a 12 minute cameo against Albania.
A first-team call-up continues to elude him but there is only so long his progress can be ignored by Guardiola whilst he is performing with such eye catching quality.
With a natural desire to burst beyond his opponent and influence the game with the ball at his feet, Matondo has the potential to emulate the success enjoyed by Wright-Phillips when he burst onto the scene as a youngster, but whether he will earn the chance to shine at City, or if he will need to embark on a new challenge to make the step up to senior football, remains to be seen.
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