Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

A brilliant XI of academy graduates sold by Man City: Palmer, Frimpong, Olise…

James Pennington
Cole Palmer, Jeremie Frimpong, Michael Olise

TT takes a look at some of the top academy stars Man City have sold down the years

Man City have been blessed with world-class players ever since their takeover back in 2008, which has led some academy graduates to seek pastures new in search of first-team football.

After winning a historic treble last season, Pep Guardiola’s side is on course to potentially do it again having reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League, the semi-finals of the FA Cup and one point of current Premier League table toppers Arsenal.

Throughout their entire squad though only Phil Foden has managed to obtain a significant amount of minutes this campaign, with Oscar Bobb, Rico Lewis and Micah Hamilton limited to just 22 appearances between them in all competitions.

Current Chelsea top goalscorer and assist maker Cole Palmer left City in the summer for upwards of £42.5m in search of more regular game time and his decision looks to be an inspired one.

This may inspire current stars in the City Academy to also leave and search for minutes elsewhere if the pathway to first-team football continues to be unclear.

Cole Palmer isn’t the only one to have parted ways with the Manchester club in recent years in the hunt for game time, and TT names an XI of excellent academy graduates sold by City in the past…

GK: James Trafford

Fresh off of a first-ever senior call-up to the England national squad, James Trafford has established himself as one of the most promising English goalkeepers out there.

Trafford joined City’s academy back in 2015 and progressed through the youth ranks before heading out on loan to Accrington Stanley in July 2021 where he suffered a difficult time through losing his first-team place and injuries.

He subsequently joined Bolton on loan for the second half of that season where he impressed and in turn, led to another loan to the Wanderers for the next campaign and was named in the PFA Team of the Year for League One.

His impressive displays led newly promoted Burnley to make him their number-one keeper in the Premier League for the 2023/24 campaign for a deal that could reach a total of £19m.

This season Burnley has struggled with their return to the top-flight and so has Trafford, keeping only two clean sheets all season as Burnley sit 19th in the table, five points adrift 17th placed Luton.

Trafford is undoubtedly a highly talented goalkeeper and at just 21 years old, he still has ample time to improve.

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RB: Jeremie Frimpong

Dutch right wing-back Jeremie Frimpong has been electric for Bayer Leverkusen this campaign as the German side still remains unbeaten in all competitions at this stage in the season.

Under Liverpool-linked boss Xabi Alonso, Frimpong has taken his game to the next level, with his role as an attacking wing-back seemingly being tailor-made for him as he has recorded 11 goals and 11 assists in 33 games in all competitions this campaign.

Frimpong joined City’s academy in 2010 and spent nine years in Manchester before moving to Celtic in September 2019 in search of more game time.

His displays in Glasgow made him a firm fan-favourite, though his performances didn’t go unnoticed around the continent as in January 2021 Bayer Leverkusen brought the Dutchman in for a fee of around €11.00m (£9.3m).

The 23-year-old has since made over 125 appearances in Germany and looks set to help Leverkusen achieve their first-ever Bundesliga title with the real possibility of adding a DFB Pokal and a Europa League title to his honours this season.

CB: Tosin Adarabioyo

Fulham centre-back Tosin Adarabioyo has established himself as a reliable and consistent defender within the Premier League since making his move to Craven Cottage back in 2020.

Having been born in Manchester to Nigerian parents, Adarabioyo joined the City Academy back in 2003, yet after loan moves to West Brom and Blackburn in the Championship, he failed to make a first-team appearance for the Citizens.

The 26-year-old joined Fulham in October 2020 for a cut-price fee of around £2m, due to only having a year remaining on his deal at the Etihad and has since gone on to make over 125 appearances for the West London club.

Now entering the prime of his career, Adarabioyo is out of contract at the end of the season with no indication that he will be extending his deal with the Cottagers.

With reports that Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal are all scrambling for the towering defender’s signature, this summer could be the time when Adarabioyo finally gets his major move.

CB: Eric Garcia

Spanish centre-back Eric Garcia spent nine years in the Barcelona academy before making the switch from La Masia to Man City’s academy in 2017 for a fee of only around £1m.

Garcia made 35 appearances in all competitions in Manchester, failing to ever truly nail down a starting birth in City’s starting XI before returning to Barcelona in June 2021 on a free transfer after rejecting a contract extension in Manchester.

Since returning to Catalonia, Garcia has made 70 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona but has headed out on loan to surprise title contenders Girona for the season.

Girona now sit 3rd in the table just two points behind second-placed Barcelona and looks primed to obtain Champions League football for the first time in the club’s history, with Garcia’s 23 appearances a huge factor in their recent success.

Whether Garcia will return to the Barcelona fold next campaign remains to be seen, though if Girona’s European ambitions come true, a return to the Estadi Montilivi could be on the cards.

LB: Angelino

Despite being only 27 years old, Spanish left-back Angelino has already become something of a journeyman having played for his 10th professional club in his career in seven different countries.

The Spaniard joined City’s academy back in 2013, yet it took him six years and four separate loan moves as well as one permanent one to PSV before returning to Manchester to make his full City debut.

After spending the first half of this season on loan at Turkish side Galatasaray, Angelino has spent the second half of this campaign on loan at Italian side AS Roma from German side RB Leipzig.

The left-back’s contract at Leipzig ends at the end of next campaign with little indication as to whether that will get extended at all.

With German international David Raum having nailed down Die Roten Bullen’s left-back position as his own, Angelino will likely find himself on the move in the summer again and to not lose him for free, the German side will likely cash in whilst they can.

CM: Romeo Lavia

Belgian midfielder Romeo Lavia has had a season to forget, being blighted with injuries since joining Chelsea for €62.10m (£53.2m) from newly relegated side Southampton.

The 20-year-old joined City’s academy when he was 16 years old in 2020 from Anderlecht having spent eight years in their academy before moving to England.

Lavia only made two appearances for the Citizens, the full 90 minutes of their triumph over Wycombe Wanderers in the EFL Cup and a seven-minute cameo in the FA Cup against Swindon, yet that didn’t stop Southampton spending £19m in July 2022 to acquire his services.

The Belgian international made 29 appearances in the Premier League for Southampton and impressed as the Saints were relegated, which started a bidding war between Chelsea and Liverpool for his signature, which the Blues won.

Now set to miss the rest of this campaign, Chelsea will hope that Lavia can return stronger and better than ever in what has been another disappointing season for Pochettino’s men.

CM: Aleix Garcia

Another current Girona player, Spanish international Aleix Garcia joined City’s academy in 2015 from Villarreal after spending 10 years with the yellow submarine.

The midfielder made nine first-team appearances in five years in all competitions for City after two loan spells at current club Girona and a season in Belgium with Mouscron brought his time in the northwest of England to an end.

Garcia signed for Dinamo Bucuresti in October 2020 before returning to the Spanish top-tier with Eibar in January 2021 until the end of the season.

In July 2021, the 26-year-old returned to Girona where he had spent two seasons on loan between 2017-2019 and has since gone on to make 90 league appearances for the club and has been a pivotal part of Girona’s European ambitions this campaign.

AM: Cole Palmer

In a season where Chelsea has flattered to deceive, there has been one shining light that has shone brighter than any other in their squad this campaign, namely 21-year-old Cole Palmer.

Born in Manchester, Palmer joined the City Academy in 2010 and unlike many, progressed through the ranks to the first team, making his first-team debut in September 2020.

After not being guaranteed regular game time at City, manager Pep Guardiola told Palmer that he was to remain as a squad player or be sold when Chelsea paid the Citizens €47.00m (£40m) to acquire his services.

This season, Palmer has been better than even he probably expected, scoring 16 goals and providing 12 assists in 35 games in all competitions for the Blues this season, leading both their goals and assists charts.

Palmer was awarded his first England call-up in November 2023 and looks set to link up with the Three Lions for this summer’s European Championships as well as a place in the Premier League team of the season.

RW: Michael Olise

French youth international Michael Olise spent time in Arsenal’s, Chelsea’s and Man City’s academy between 2009 and 2017 before taking a step back and linking up with Reading following his departure from Manchester.

After spending two years in the Reading Academy, he made his debut for the first team in March 2019 and the following season made himself an integral part of the side as Reading narrowly missed out on the playoffs on the final day of the season.

Premier League side Crystal Palace activated his £8.37m release clause in July 2021 and since then Olise has scored 12 times and assisted on 22 occasions in 82 appearances for the Eagles.

After being heavily linked with a move to Chelsea, Olise signed a new deal at Palace which will keep him at the club until 2027

This season, the 22-year-old has struggled with injuries, making eleven appearances but nevertheless has scored six times and assisted three times despite his lack of appearances.

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LW: Jadon Sancho

English international Jadon Sancho has had a rollercoaster of a career so far despite being only 24 years old.

After spending the bulk of his youth career at Watford, Sancho moved to the City academy in 2015 and spent two years in Manchester before making the move to Germany and linking up with Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for £8m.

The winger’s career exploded into life in the 2018/19 season when he scored 12 and assisted 18 times in the Bundesliga at just 18 years old and left Dortmund in 2021 having scored 52 times and assisting 66 times in 148 appearances in all competitions for the club.

Sancho’s £73m move to Man Utd so far has not gone to plan, having been omitted from first-team training this season after falling out with manager Erik ten Hag and subsequently moving back to Dortmund on loan until the end of the season.

Sancho’s future in Manchester remains uncertain and with his contract not expiring until 2026, he could yet force his way back into first-team plans at Old Trafford.

ST: Ellis Simms

Moving down to the Championship is Coventry City’s frontman Ellis Simms.

Simms spent time in the City Academy as a youth before signing for Everton in 2017 at the age of 16 where he would spend six years at the club with various loan spells at Blackpool, Hearts and Sunderland.

Following his permanent departure from Goodison Park in July 2023 for £6m to Coventry, Simms has gotten better as the season has gone on, scoring 12 goals and assisting once in 39 appearances at Mark Robins’ side aims for another playoff finish.

Eligible for England, Poland and Jamaica, Simms has yet to make a youth appearance at international level, though it shouldn’t take long for teams both at club and international level to come calling for the forward.

Honourable mentions: Brahim Diaz, Kelechi Iheanacho, Gavin Bazunu, Kieran Trippier, Ben Mee, Shea Charles, Carlos Borges, Lukas Nmecha, Felix Nmecha, Tommy Doyle, Loris Karius