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Pep Guardiola told me I had to leave Manchester City, and now I’m 90 minutes from proving him wrong.



Four Manchester City academy alumni will compete in the Champions League final on Saturday when Real Madrid takes on Borussia Dortmund.

Back in 2016, Manchester City’s Under-18s boasted an explosive assault that included Phil Foden, Brahim Diaz, and Jadon Sancho. One is already a Champions League winner, with another to follow on Saturday night.

Add Felix Nmecha, who graduated from the City Football Academy a year or two after the more well-known trio, and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, and there will be four City players in Saturday’s final at Wembley.

Nmecha was released by City in 2021 in order to advance his career, with his success at Wolfsburg and Dortmund potentially indicating that they may have profited from him. Sancho’s career path is well documented, beginning with Dortmund, where he earned his reputation, followed by an unsuccessful move to Manchester United and now a loan return to Germany. City have benefitted by almost £20 million from his post-City career.

Bynoe-Gittens left City for Dortmund in 2020 and has played in all but one of his team’s previous 23 Bundesliga games this season. Then there’s Brahim Diaz, who came the closest of the three to breaking into Pep Guardiola’s first squad, after Foden of course. Diaz made 15 appearances for Guardiola, scoring twice and enjoying the Etihad crowd shouting his name after scoring both goals in a Carabao Cup victory over Fulham.

He and Foden had great aspirations of making it into the first squad, and Guardiola clearly loved the young Spaniard, but Foden soon discovered that competition on City’s wings was fierce. He only started four games, all in the League Cup, and averaged just 27 minutes in his 15 appearances with Sky Blue. He also had some success on pre-season travels, which strengthened his relationship with Guardiola while also reinforcing his view that he should play more.

While Foden waited and trusted Guardiola, Diaz took a similar approach with Sancho a few years back. He wanted to play more and shared his thoughts. Diaz’s contract was slated to expire in 2019, and he wanted assurances regarding playing time before signing an extension.

City was willing to take a chance on him going for free, but they also recognized his worth. Guardiola would be free to play who he wanted.

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