Steven McInerney looks at how City's loanees fared last month
Following the preseason exploits of many involved with the first team over the summer, and indeed the individual achievements of many in the EDS and u18s last year, it was always likely that a few of our most promising players would seek first team football on laon this year. And so it proved, with Angelino, Enas Unal, Olivier Ntcham, Seko Fofana, James Horsfield, Shay Facey, Jason Denayer and Jack Byrne all leaving the club temporarily to further their development. In what will hopefully be a regular monthly series, this is the first attempt at tracking their progress at their new clubs. Naturally, i've not been able to watch all their appearances, but i've followed their progress the best I can. At the end of their respective loans there will be more in-depth pieces, with hopefully some insight from fans of the clubs involved, which I tend to find offers a more realistic view of their performances compared to what little you can dig up on various forms of social media or highlight reels. For now though, here's September's edition.
Olivier Ntcham - Genoa
After signing a huge five year contract in the summer, Ntcham departed the club in an interesting set of circumstances. A two year loan to Genoa, with a purchase option at the end of the spell. Odd on the surface, but it makes sense. Firstly, twenty-four months is substantial and Genoa can really commit to the player. He's there for two seasons, and it feels like he can fully integrate into their squad without the looming presence of departure on the horizon. It adds incentives for both the club and the player to settle down and push forward together. The purchase option is neither here or there, seeing as City have a marginally higher buy-back option they can activate if they need too. If we had to make a 2 or 3 million loss to buy back him then would it really be a big deal after Genoa had turned a player into a potential star for us over two years? Of course it wouldn't. In fact most clubs would bite your hands off if the could guarantee a hugely beneficial loan for the rather measly sum of a few million. It's a drop in the ocean at City, let's be honest. It's something i'd expect to see more of over the coming years.
Encouragingly, he's taken to life in Italy exceptionally on the field. One of Genoa's shining lights so far. Situated in a whole variety of positions, left-wing, centre mid and even as false 9 he's impressed with his bullish, direct and powerful displays. It's not really surprising, because that ability was always hinted at, yet at the same time it is. Ntcham lurched from the ridiculous to the sublime frequently for the EDS. One minute a behemoth, powering through midfield and striking one in from twenty-five yards, the next Joey Barton's slightly confused brother. But bigger. Consistency was his problem, never his ability. There was promising signs in the post season friendly for the first team v Toronto. There was an immediate arrogance when he entered the field of play, driving forward with a brashness you don't usually associate with kids making their debut. He seems to have carried this into professional football. Genoa are renowned for giving youth a chance, and the signs are good. He'll be a regular, and the sky really is the limit. Genoa are a good team, and he's appeared six times for them already, in a tough league. This has been a good month for the young French midfielder, and (clearly over the top) Pogba comparisons have been made already. If he continues this form up for the rest of the year then we could witness something special when he eventually returns.
James Horsfield - Doncaster Rovers
Only recently announced, the right-back/midfielder moved to Doncaster Rovers this week for a month. It came out of nowhere, but it's not a bad move at all. Horsfield is a good, competent footballer - one that will surely build a career for himself in professional football. Personally I'm of the opinion that amongst the huge number of supreme talents we have at the club, he's a lot further down the list for a chance. The barriers to entry at City are vast, and it takes something special these days to even get a place on the bench. He may have just missed the boat at City, there's no shame in that, but sending him out on loan for experience before any decision is taken, presumably at the end of the season, is a good decision. He immediately was thrown in at the deep end at his new club, handed his professional football debut as Doncaster drew 2-2 with Swindon Town. He started at right-back, and according to what I could find online, impressed the home fans with his energy and commitment as he shuttled forward with confidence. Fingers crossed it'll be the first of many appearances.
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