Manchester City aims to create superstars, not sign them: CFG COO

Omar Berrada, the Chief Football Operations Officer of the City Football Group, speaks about Manchester City's progress through the last decade, its vision with the academy and more.

Omar Berrada, the COO of the City Football Group, calls it a dream to see Manchester City in the Champions League final.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Manchester City is on the brink of unparalleled success. After snapping up its third Premier League title in four seasons, City will look to lift its first Champions League crown when it takes on Chelsea in Saturday's final.

Omar Berrada, the Chief Football Operations Officer of the City Football Group, calls it a dream.

“It is a dream to be in the Champions League final. Over the last 12 to 13 years, everybody from the ownership to the football staff and non-football staff across the City Football Group has wanted to be in the Champions League final. It’s been a journey that started with the FA Cup win in 2011 and we have been able to win many domestic trophies since. The Champions League brings in the best clubs from the world and gives you that additional element of prestige if you win it,’’ Berrada told select media on Wednesday.

“We have worked so hard to get here that I believe we will continue to be in knockout stages in the years to come because the groundwork has been done to put us in that position. Winning the Champions League will give us prestige but it’s the long-term effort that has been put in that will ensure that we stay successful,” he added.

Berrada stressed the long term vision of the club, which has helped it evolve into a footballing heavyweight. City has won five of the last 10 Premier League titles.

“It is a result of a vision that the ownership had 12 years ago - to develop a strong academy, to develop a specific way of playing football and to bring the right manager for that type of football. We also needed to bring in the right players for that. Txiki Begiristain has been building the squad for many years and ensuring that we get the right squad balance and bring youth from the academy. It is a combination of everything plus all the work that goes on behind the scenes concerning injury management and prevention, and working with Pep and the coaching staff to ensure player rotation so that all players can hit peak form at the right time,” he said.

Berrada hopes more players like Phil Foden can break into the City first team. Photo: GETTY IMAGES   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES

 

A key vision for City was the establishment of an academy that would serve as a feeder to the main team. City’s most successful academy product, Phil Foden -- widely known as the Stockport Iniesta -- has become a regular starter in Guardiola’s side.

“We are very proud of the work the academy has done. The vision was always to develop the best talent and to create a pathway so that the likes of Foden and others can break through and be significant contributors to the first team. To identify, recruit and develop local talent and in some cases, the young talent that has come from Europe, like Eric Garcia, speaks to the work that our academy director and the coaches have put in. We are very confident that there will be more players like Foden who will progress to the first team,” Berrada noted.

“It always has been about finding the right squad balance between young players, players who are at their peak and players who can bring more experience. It has not been about investing in superstars, we like to find the right players and with time they become superstars because of the success of the team. It’s about ensuring that we find players that can adapt to our style of play, believe in our culture in place and then buy into it. We love making investments in players at different age levels and them blossoming and reaching their highest potential,“ he added.

- Impossible to replace Aguero, no talk about Messi yet -

Talking about the upcoming summer transfer window, Berrada quipped that it was “a very difficult task, if not impossible” to replace Sergio Aguero and added that clubs will remain cautious in the transfer market this year as they continue to recover from financial strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“His (Aguero’s) performance and contribution to the team has been phenomenal. He’s arguably the best striker in the Premier League's history in terms of the number of goals per minute played. He will be sorely missed and we wish him the best for the rest of his career. As we have seen this season, Pep has a team that can adapt tactically to deal with different situations. We are in a comfortable situation even if we don’t sign someone,” he said.

Berrada felt it would be an impossible task for City to replace the outgoing striker Sergio Aguero. - Photo: REUTERS   -  REUTERS

 

“COVID-19 has had a massive negative impact on the revenues of all football clubs and we are not immune to it, our financial revenue has taken a serious hit. Last summer there was a 40 per cent decrease in transfers and a 70 per cent decrease in the transfer window across the top five leagues in Europe. We believe it will continue this way for at least one more year. We have been running a sustainable club from a financial point of view for many years. We will remain that way and be careful of any investments we make in the transfer market this summer,” he added.

Berrada remained non-committal about the possibility of Lionel Messi, whose contract with Barcelona runs out soon, moving to City. “We are very pleased with the success that team has had this season. We are looking at areas we can potentially improve. If you look at performance this year, it's not like we need to make significant investments. Maybe we might look at signing someone in the striker position since Aguero leaves, but right now we are very focused on our squad. When the season ends on Saturday evening, we will look at what we want to do for the transfer window.”

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