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CFG to add eleventh club to Manchester City’s talent pool as Arsenal’s need to find a European sister club grows

By Tom Canton

Manchester City will now have strong links to Bolivian and further South American talent after CFG agreed a partnership with Club Bolivar.


City Football Group grows

Manchester City and the City Football Group are a growing force in the world of football and have recently added a further club to their portfolio in the nation of Bolivia. City confirmed on their website that La Paz-based side Club Bolivar has now joined the project and CFG chief executive officer Ferran Soriano spoke of the good news

“We are very pleased to grow our global presence through this important collaboration with Club Bolivar, City Football Group’s first Partner Club,” he said.

“This long-term agreement is the first of its kind and will enable Club Bolivar to draw down on and utilise the wide range of football industry expertise developed by City Football Group.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JUNE 22: Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City gives his team instructions during a drinks break during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley FC at Etihad Stadium on June 22, 2020 in Manchester, England. Football stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venus resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

“As well as supporting Club Bolivar’s ambitions, we have an opportunity to learn. Our work in Bolivia will certainly strengthen our knowledge of, and network in, South American football.”

The club becomes the 11th acquisition of CFG with Manchester City, New York City, Melbourne City, Yokohama Marinos, Montevideo City Torque, Girona FC, Troyes, Sichuan Jiuniu, Mumbai City and Lommel SK.

Whilst the words from Soriano were very much of what the Bolivian club would gain from the agreement, it is expected that Manchester City will be able to extend their scouting network much further into South America and acquire top talent when possible.

Arsenal need partnerships

One of the main benefits for CFG recently from having clubs such as Troyes, Girona and Lommel SK is that these are institutions established in EU countries. Due to the recent exit of Britain from the EU, this has changed the rules of how clubs can sign specific players and one of the most significant is that of under 18s.

It is now not possible for British clubs to sign under 18 talent from EU Nations. Whilst this is initially seemingly damaging to possible player development and academy growth, clubs are finding ways around the new restrictions.

There are many clubs such as City with European connections. Girona in Spain, Troyes in France and Lommel SK in Belgium. Leicester City, Brighton and Sheffield United also have agreements with sides in Belgium.

What this means is that clubs can develop players up until their 18th birthday and then, should the player meet the requirements, the British club would be able to sign them.

These clubs have do not have the same restrictions on signing under 18 players from within the EU and so in collaboration with a Premier League side, such as the aforementioned quartet, a player under the age of 18 could be signed, developed and then, once they’ve reached their adulthood, be sold to the Premier League side.

Nikolaj Moller signs for Arsenal. (Image courtesy of nordicsky.agency instagram)

Arsenal are one such club which lack an established connection with one of these EU clubs and only have ties to that of MLS club Colorado Rapids who are also owned by Stan Kroenke. Arsenal moved in the summer to sign several young players such as Joel Ideho, George Lewis, Nikolaj Moller and Salah-Eddine knowing that these, the under 18s certainly, may not be possible come 2021.

If Arsenal are unable to reach an agreement with an EU club they could find themselves lagging behind their Premier League competitors when it comes to acquiring young talent from the continent.

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This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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