Men's Team

The 24 Academy players who have made their debut under Guardiola

Throughout Pep Guardiola’s period of sustained success at City, the most successful manager in the Club’s history has maintained a commitment to bringing through homegrown talent.

A total of 24 Academy players have already been given their debuts in the first team during his time as the boss.

And with the quality of players coming through the Elite Development Squad and younger age groups, there’s every chance that many more will follow after we announced that Guardiola had signed a new contract keeping him at the Club until 2025.

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Here’s a reminder of all those youngsters that have made their first team debuts in the last six-and-a-half years under the Catalan coach.

PABLO MAFFEO

It was back in August 2016 and Guardiola’s first-ever European game at the Etihad Stadium when he handed a debut to an Academy player.

Then 19, Maffeo started at right-back as City guaranteed a place in the Champions League group stages with a 1-0 victory over Romanian side Steaua Bucharest.

BRAHIM DIAZ

Another Spaniard to come through the Academy, Diaz was just 17 when he was a second half substitute in the third round League Cup victory at Swansea City in September 2016.

He would score both goals in a 2-0 win over Fulham just over a year later and has since gone onto make an appearance for the Spain national team.

PHIL FODEN

The boyhood City fan has achieved so much in a Blue shirt that it seems remarkable that he only made his debut five years ago as a fresh-faced 17-year-old in the Champions League win over Feyenoord in November 2017.

Now he is fast closing in on 200 appearances for the Club having won four Premier League titles, four Carabao Cups and an FA Cup and has signed a contract keeping him at City until 2027.

LUKAS NMECHA

After scoring 20 times for the Under-18s Premier League winners in the 2015/16 season, the striker had been part of the squad before finally making his debut in the Carabao Cup quarter-final victory over Leicester City.

When the tie went to penalties, Nmecha coolly finished his spot-kick as City went on to win the trophy.

TOM DELE-BASHIRU

Another Academy player to make his debut in the same game in December 2017 as Guardiola relied on youth against difficult Premier League opponents.

He had moved through the age groups and made a big impression in the Under-18s, scoring six in 15 games from midfield.

CLAUDIO GOMES

Few players get to pick up a winners’ medal at Wembley on their first-team debut but that's exactly what happened to the 18-year-old French midfielder.

Gomes was a late substitute as City won the 2018 Community Shield with a 2-0 victory over Chelsea.

ADRIAN BERNABE

After impressing on the pre-season tour to the United States, the Spanish midfielder made his debut in the Carabao Cup victory away to Oxford United.

That game in September 2018 is best remembered as Foden’s first goal for the Club as youth got another opportunity to shine along with the first team stars.

ARJANET MURIC

The Swiss youth international goalkeeper made his first start in the same match as he became the understudy to Ederson for the rest of the season.

Claudio Bravo had ruptured his Achilles tendon and Muric deputised and played in every Carabao Cup match on the way to Wembley where we beat Chelsea.  

ERIC GARCIA

After making his debut in the quarter-finals of the Carabo Cup in December 2018 at Leicester, Garcia went on to establish himself as a regular with the first team.

He was praised by Guardiola for his intelligence after playing a part in City’s success before his departure to his hometown club Barcelona in 2021.

FELIX NMECHA

The younger brother of Lukas, he got his first opportunity in the Carabao Cup semi-final against Burton Albion in January 2019.

After joining the club as a nine-year-old, Felix had progressed through the age groups before getting his chance under Guardiola.

IAN CARLO POVEDA

A tricky fast winger, Poveda also made his first-team bow in the same match.

Despite winning the first leg 9-0, Guardiola still named a strong team and Sergio Aguero scored the only goal of the game.

TAYLOR HARWOOD-BELLIS

Another talented City fan from Stockport, the 17-year-old centre-back made his debut in the 3-0 Carabao Cup victory over Preston North End in September 2019.

He is continuing his education under City legend Vincent Kompany on loan at Championship leaders Burnley.

TOMMY DOYLE

The midfielder’s credentials don’t come much stronger than being the grandson of two City greats in Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe.

So it was proud moment for him and his family when he made his debut in the Carabao Cup win over Southampton in October 2019.

LIAM DELAP

The son of former Premier League player Rory, the striker could hardly have wished for a better start on his debut against Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup in September 2020.

The 17-year-old raced onto Foden’s pass to clip a brilliant strike into the top corner, although sadly the game was played behind closed doors.

COLE PALMER

Now a regular in Guardiola’s first-team squad, Palmer was 18 when he made his first start in the Carabao Cup victory over Burnley in September 2020.

A first goal would come a year later at the Etihad Stadium and he continues to grow, making 12 appearances already this season.

JOSH WILSON-ESBRAND

The 19-year-old is part of the first-team squad and got his first chance in the Carabao Cup victory over Wycombe Wanderers in September 2021.

In an impressive debut, he set up Riyad Mahrez’s strike with a confident run and clever pass.

FINLEY BURNS

The young centre-back also made his debut in the same game in a youthful back-four.

More recently he’s been working hard in the EDS squad that has qualified for the UEFA Youth League knockout stages and is flying high in Premier League 2.

LUKE MBETE

Burns’ defensive partner in the same game against Wycombe as City triumphed 6-1.

“The players and the fans helped us a lot, they were brilliant,” he said after the game. “And obviously the support from [Guardiola] as well and the staff behind the scenes.”

CJ EGAN-RILEY

To complete a youthful back-four, Egan-Riley made his first start in the same match.

The 18-year-old had spent 10 years working his way through the youth ranks and made another start in the Champions League last-16 against Sporting.

ROMEO LAVIA

A talented defensive midfielder, he also got his first opportunity against Wycombe aged just 17.

He had impressed helping the Club's Elite Development Squad to back-to-back Premier League 2 titles.

JAMES MCATEE

It showed his talent that the 18-year-old midfielder was able to come on as a left-back in the same game.

After joining the club at Under-11 level, McAtee scored 19 goals in 25 games as Brian Barry-Murphy’s side successfully defended the Premier League 2 title.

BEN KNIGHT

The attacker made his first-team debut in the Community Shield defeat to Leicester in August 2021.

A regular with England at Youth level, he was a key figure in the Under-18 Premier League Cup triumph of 2019 before moving onto the EDS.

SAM EDOZIE

The winger also made his first appearance in the same game at Wembley.

Guardiola praised him and Lavia when they returned to the Etihad with Southampton earlier this season.

RICO LEWIS

Our latest debutant to come through the Academy, the young right-back has burst onto the scene.

Lewis has made six first-team appearance already this season, with his debut in the Premier League win over Bournemouth in April and a memorable goal on his first start against Sevilla in the Champions League.

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