Teenage central defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis could be integrated into Manchester City’s first-team squad next season, with manager Pep Guardiola hinting at his inclusion for the 2019/20 campaign.
Manchester Evening News reported quotes from Guardiola saying: “We have three centre-backs who can play there and we have two young players in the second team who can help us.”
According to Manchester Evening News, Harwood-Bellis is one of those young players, the 17-year-old having featured in Manchester City’s games in the Premier League Asia Trophy recently.
Also, Manchester Evening News claimed that he has impressed Guardiola with his work in training and assured passing from the heart of defence.
When Guardiola picked his pre-season tour squad, the 17-year-old benefitted to some extent from the absences of centre-backs Nicolas Otamendi and Eric Garcia, who were both rested after international tournament involvement this summer.
It seems that the youngster has made the most of his chance. He was the only outfield player to feature for the full 90 minutes against West Ham in the Premier League Asia Trophy last week and also played for 62 minutes in the final against Wolves.
Metro reported that Guardiola was thrilled with the defender’s performance against the Hammers and singled him out for praise in the dressing room afterwards.
Manchester Evening News claimed that the manager recognises a need for height and strength in Premier League centre-backs and 6 ft 2 (1.85m) Harwood-Bellis caught the eye in last season’s FA Youth Cup final for his succession of headers, tackles and blocks before battling on through most of extra time despite suffering from cramp.
With the Daily Mail reporting that Eliaquim Mangala has been told he can leave, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Otamendi are the three senior centre-backs in Manchester City’s squad and will likely dominate that position next season, having played 123 games between them in 2018/19.
However, Harwood-Bellis’ strong performances of late could open the door for him to be included in some matchday squads and maybe even get game time in domestic cups.
Along with Garcia, he adds youthful cover at centre-back and, with Manchester City seemingly well-stocked in this position, his emergence could spare them the need to sign a central defender this summer.
The Premier League champions remain in the hunt for £80million-rated Harry Maguire, as reported by the Daily Star, but in Harwood-Bellis they may already have found a very capable centre-back in-house.
Manchester City fans, can you see Harwood-Bellis getting some first-team action next season? Give us your thoughts by commenting below!
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience