City relaxed about likely loss of third young player in two years
Schalke-bound Matondo could follow Jadon Sancho and Brahim Diaz out of the door
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “All the players in the academy we trust them – if they want to be patient and stay; if they want to leave they leave.” Photograph: Reuters/Phil Noble
Yet it is understood City are not worried that this represents a concerning trend of promising youngsters departing, instead believing each player has a unique set of circumstances.
There is a confidence at the club that City’s youth set-up is producing a number of potential first-team players who are bound to attract attention from outside and bids.
Matondo made his Wales debut in a friendly against Albania in November yet has never played for City’s first team, and the club are thought to privately be delighted with the fee agreed with Schalke.
If they receive £12 million that would be £3 million less than Real paid for Diaz and £4 million more than was received for Sancho two summers ago. Although Matondo is considered a prospect, coaches at City do not rate him in the same bracket as Diaz or Sancho.
While the winger is particularly quick, ranking as fast as Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling, the view at City is that Matondo would have a slim chance only of dislodging either of these wide players, with Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva also ahead of him.
Diaz was another who was considered to be more of first-team quality than Matondo, and the 19-year-old’s decision to move to Real represents a different set of circumstances.
City’s view is that Diaz, as a Spaniard, was understandably attracted by a move to his homeland’s most successful club and given the ages of Sterling (24) and Sané (23) in particular, felt his pathway to a starting berth was blocked.
City wanted to retain Diaz, as they did Sancho, who departed when he was 17, but a transfer which could rise to £22 million with add-ons was viewed as a success for all parties. The champions were adequately remunerated, the player and Real are content, and relations between the two clubs have proved mutually beneficial, which bodes well for future deals.
Phil Foden, unlike Matondo, is considered to be at the same level as Diaz and Sancho. One of the players ahead of the 18-year-old midfielder in Pep Guardiola’s team is David Silva. In contrast to Sterling and Sané, Silva turned 33 this month, and he has previously said his current contract may be his last in the Premier League. This expires in summer 2020, so if Silva does leave then, Foden will just have celebrated his 20th birthday, his integration into the senior squad this season upping his first-team minutes and the start of preparation for a potential starting berth.
Whereas Sancho never played for the first team, Diaz was being eased into the squad, making 14 appearances, and Foden has made 28. The closest Matondo has got to senior football was on last summer’s pre-season tour of the US; he was never selected by Guardiola in the squad for a competitive match.
Incredibly fast winger
Guardiola, asked on Monday about Matondo prospective move to Schalke, whom City play in next month’s Champions League last-16 tie, was hardly effusive in his assessment of the player.
“Yeah, I have some comments – I know how good he is, incredibly fast winger, and a young talent. This club is working so good. All the players in the academy we trust them – if they want to be patient and stay; if they want to leave they leave.”
A host of other clubs were interested in Matondo, whose contract expires next summer, but Schalke met City’s valuation. Once this occurred the club decided not to make a concerted play to retain him, as they did with Sancho and Diaz, who were each offered contracts competitive respectively with Dortmund and Real.