Since 2008, Manchester City has experienced a Gold Rush-like financial expansion. The first investors came in with literal gold and superstar athletes. Then came silver, in the shape of the League and FA Cup trophies. Gems are finally appearing. What beautiful gems are these? The footballs created on the Etihad Campus, enhanced by world-class resources, are currently being polished for display in the Premier League. They look so good for a city club. For me, the crown jewel is Brahim Diaz.
When the city began moving towards continental football, a diminutive wide man was viewed as a symbol of that movement. This likely comes naturally to him, but it is unnatural for City. This is a player the team has had to pay an eight-figure sum for in the past, not someone in the squad, who they acquired for a small fee from Malaga in 2015. His first team playing time has already happened, but his best football is ahead with the u18s/23s.
This young man is quite talented. He is quite multifaceted. His first touch really surprised me. On three separate occasions, he displayed beautiful ball retention skills, focusing on his left foot as though he applied adhesive pre-game. First touch is so important to the modern game and this doesn’t concern him. With his first touch, he can start setting up the other touches, making him one step ahead of his opponent. His finishing ability is outstanding. He is good at finding the lower-left corner of the goal.
He has incredible composure in one-on-one situations, letting the keeper know where he will place the ball, best exemplified in his FA Youth Cup strike against Norwich in March 2016. the goals evidence of his finishing ability Rarity is infrequent. Brahim is fantastic with both feet. His penalty-taking strategy is a mix of right and left foot. An ability that poses a nightmare for defenders is because his sprinting movements are unpredictable.
This flows wonderfully into his greatest attribute – dribbling. His dribbling ability is remarkable. You can watch this boy on YouTube and see how he beats up 4/5 people with his nimble, low-centre of gravity feet. He was dribbling into the centre of the pitch, where he could do a lot of damage, like in a recent game vs Arsenal U23s. When he was cutting from the right, he was using the fake shot like a certain number 10 for Barcelona.
In the layman’s view, he also has the many qualities. He is capable of playing out on the wing, as a playmaker, or as a striker. Brahim has demonstrated on the field that he can make a big impact in various roles. Brahim appears to have game sense. By this, I mean that he can know when to hold and when to go on the receiving end. He enjoys playing with his back to defenders, and he uses his body well to keep the ball away from others. I like how confident he is. He tried several different approaches in the game against Arsenal, but most of those moves failed. It is especially striking because he kept trying even though it may not have resulted in a direct assist or goal.
On this evidence, you would think he is finished. Sadly, Brahim is not quite there yet. To succeed in his new role, he will have to show consistency. But, like I said before, players who don’t have many goals or assists aren’t inconsistent. When I’ve seen him, he’s shown himself to be a consistent threat for extended periods of time, similar to Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.
To fit in, he must overcome his short stature. Even players of his size have a place in the Premier League, so he should know how to use his body to your advantage (which he does in PL2). Because the Premier League has extremely experienced defenders, he will have to work on this aspect of his game further. Final development point would be to pinpoint his location. Even though I stated above that tactical flexibility is excellent at the highest level, he first needs to say, “This is where I play.”
We’ve covered many aspects of his game, both good and bad. You watched as he plays and found him to be similar to the best player in world football, Lionel Messi. For this instance, the comparison is unfair and absurd, so use only Messi as a guide, not a comparison tool.
So, what lies ahead? Well, many fringe players like him take the opportunity whenever it presents itself. Thankfully, his manager sees performances, not names, so if Diaz merits a start, he will get it. He must make use of current first-team players as tools for adapting to Premier League football because it is difficult. What he needs to do is simply play like he does for the U18 and U23 teams. I have no doubt that, by the time next year, Diaz will be well-known throughout the country.