Watch out Phil Foden, there’s a new wonderkid on the block.
The Citizens have been doing some work behind the scenes during a crazy period for football, and it looks as if they’re close to snaring one of Spanish football’s most exciting youth stars of recent years.
18-year-old Pablo Moreno, a product of Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy who currently plays his football at Juventus, is reportedly set to swap Turin for sunny Manchester to join Pep Guardiola, with City’s Felix Correia moving in the opposite direction.
Excited but a little bit confused? We’ve got you covered with all there is to know about the Spanish prodigy.
Moreno doesn’t come from Barcelona’s typical youth catchment area, hailing from Granada in southern Spain, 850km removed from Catalonia.
He started to gain recognition with his scintillating form in the Campeonato de Andalucía, leading Ciudad de Granada’s Under-10 team to the trophy and conquering the mighty Real Betis in the final.
He has remained the talk of Granada long since leaving for Barcelona, and as his former manager Javier Mahia recalls: “In Granada you can see a lot more Juve shirts, but not because of Cristiano Ronaldo, because of Pablo Moreno!”
The Spanish striker can play across the forward line, but primarily played on the left or as a centre-forward for Juventus’ youth teams.
One of the things that will terrify his potential Premier League opponents the most is his directness – while he is an undoubted goal threat, he likes to drop deep and dribble at defenders, using his acceleration and excellent natural close control to open up defences and create space for his team.
Defenders will have to stay focussed against Moreno – his pace and awareness means that he can take advantage of any lax offside trap.
One of the most noticeable things about Pablo Moreno is his determination to get to the very top level.
The striker, though only 18, has spoken of his determination to win the Ballon d’Or, and the fact that he relocated to a different country at the age of 16 having grown frustrated with the lack of opportunity at his boyhood club Barcelona speaks volumes about how serious he is.
And if that doesn’t convince you, Moreno was making sacrifices at an age where most kids have more time for maxing out their mum’s credit card on Fortnite skins – what other 10-year old in human history has voluntarily given up fizzy drinks?!
City fans frantically searching for ‘Pablo Moreno | Goals and Skills | HD | Next Shaun Goater?’ compilations on YouTube right now might be disappointed to see that there isn’t much footage of him playing in professional matches (in fact, there is none at all).
However, some awfully good players have come through the UEFA Youth League in recent years, and Moreno is one of many players to have cut his teeth in this innovative competition.
He has four goals in this year’s (obviously postponed) competition, joining a certain Gio Reyna and a certain Joshua Zirkzee on the same tally.
Barça fans will be pleased to see that he showed no mercy to their old foes Atletico Madrid, scoring two in six minutes against them in a second-half salvo.
I think we can all agree that you generally have to be pretty good at football to be a record-holder at Barcelona’s legendary La Masia academy.
The extraordinary came naturally to Moreno, however, who has turned Bojan Krkic’s achievements at the youth training complex to rubble, scoring an unbelievable 72 goals in 27 Under-13 games in his first season at the club.
Having stacked up over 200 goals in total for Barcelona, it’s not a surprise that they came crawling back to sign him this summer, according to Marca‘s report – but he only had eyes for Man City.
A player as confident and resolute as Moreno is unsurprisingly always looking to see what he can learn from some of the greats of the game, and two of the very best in the world at the moment were more than happy to lend a helping hand at Juventus.
‘[Paolo] Dybala and Cristiano [Ronaldo], they helped me the most,’ Moreno says of when he was asked to train with Juventus’ first team.
‘Mostly with things I didn’t understand, like preventing injuries. They explained things to me and told me what to do.’
How many other players have got to study under both Ronaldo and Messi?
Never mind Ronaldo and Dybala – Max Allegri is a pretty good judge of players, and Moreno almost got his first start under the six-time Serie A winner.
Moreno was an unused substitute in Juve’s game against Genoa last season, and he might have wondered what could have been – La Vecchia Signora made hard work of the fixture and ended up losing 2-0, and unsurprisingly Allegri opted against calling upon the rookie to remedy the situation.