City on road to Barcelona

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Manchester City have submitted planning for an 80-acre Etihad campus for young players to develop, with the bill for the state-of-the-art training facility said to be topping £100 million.

City are hoping to emulate Catalan giants Barcelona, and create a pathway for young talent to grow in Manchester rather than spending big money buying established stars.

Chief football operations officer Brian Marwood believes that the new facility shows a long term intention for City to create a successful side that challenges for trophies both in England and abroad.

"This will be the most important investment this club has ever made. It is part of our 10-year strategy for long-term, sustainable success," said Marwood.

"Everyone has seen we have accelerated the recruitment process in terms of where the first team is now, which is three years into the owner's tenure of this football club.

“We are fully aware of the commitment that we face but, equally, we talk about sustainability and that [paying large transfer fees] can't be sustained, so we have to develop within. That is something that is paramount to the future of the club.


“Financial fair play gets talked about every week now, and everyone is looking to Manchester City to see whether we are going to conform to that. This is an element that will help us achieve the criteria people are looking at."

The stadium is to house 400 youngsters who will train with the senior squad, and includes 15 full-size pitches, each one designed on different grass conditions in the Barclays Premier League, on-site accommodation for over 70 City players and young squad members, and a 7,000 capacity stadium for games.

Marwood completed a tour of 30 sports centres around the world, including the Australian Institute of Sport and global Nike head offices, and says the research has paid off.

"We have a proud history of bringing through players from our academy and that is something we want to enhance,” he said.

“What we have tried to do at every level is make it better, and develop it in a different way. We are trying to bring through young players that can play in the Champions League. That is what we are aiming for."

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