Manchester United legend Paul Scholes believes great rivals Manchester City have raised the bar with the opening of their new Football Academy.
The £200million complex has raised the bar in terms of facilities to help develop young players, and is the envy of clubs around the world as the Citizens looking to improve their record of bringing youngsters through to the first team.
When Scholes opted to play for the Red Devils, there was never a question of joining City's youth programme. However, that appears to have changed in the eyes of the 11-time Premier League champion.
"The picture in Manchester is very different and, as a United fan, it worries me," wrote Scholes in his Independent column.
"Trying to look at it from a neutral perspective I have to say that what City have achieved is impressive and their impact on the youth scene in Manchester began long before the opening of their City Football Academy this week.
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"It has been no secret among people I know in football that City have taken great strides in their youth academy programmes, to the extent that there are even United players past and present who have, or at least once had, sons at City’s academy."
Sheikh Mansour's investment in Manchester City began back in 2008, and the club's subsequent success has been reliant on several high-profile, big-money arrivals at the Etihad Stadium.
They won the title in 2011/12 and repeated the trick last season, but for long-term success City have recognised that investment in young player development could be the key.
Competition for kids
Scholes acknowledges that the Academy is a major step forward for City, and United must be careful that they don't fall behind when it comes to luring kids to the club.
"The bigger picture is how City have upped the stakes with their new academy and training complex," Scholes added.
"Manchester United’s Carrington base is a great training ground and academy, but City have just taken theirs to another level.
These things matter now. It is a long way from the days when I used to get three buses from my home in north Manchester to the old Cliff training ground in Salford."
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