After previously discussing which EDS players could leave the club on loan this summer, I thought I'd take a closer look at the two transfers already finalised for this coming season. Irish u21 international Jack Byrne was the first to make a move. He signed up for twelve months with Eredivise outfit Cambuur, quickly followed by his EDS team mate, the eighteen year old Spanish left-back, Angelino, who confirmed a spell with City’s sister club New York City until the end of the MLS season. More are expected to follow, and this was always likely to be the case if last season was anything to go by. There was a vast exodus of academy hopefuls to various corners of the world this time last year as they left in the search of experience and first team football, as the club made space for players to step up from the u18s. EDS regulars Denayer, Facey, Lopes, Cole, Hiwula, Leigh, Bytiqi and Rusnak all left, while the likes of Evans, Rekik and Plummer sought further spells out on loan following time spent away the year before.
That trend won't subside any time soon either – the club is all too aware of the need for testing its potential future stars in more challenging environments away from the relative comforts of the City Football Academy. It’s a necessary step, and after excelling in the u21s both Angelino and Byrne were both pretty high on the list of potential loanees this summer. Highly thought of at City, they’re both possibly already above the level of youth football based on their performances last season. They exerted themselves well at all levels last season, often individually proving match-winners with typically committed performances. These moves have seemingly come at the right time. Byrne’s in particular, given that he’s no longer eligible for the Uefa Youth League or the FA Youth Cup, leaving game time potentially a little on the sparse side. Angelino's move makes sense too - his stars continuously rising, and his performances last year almost demanded he'd be given first-team football in some form this year. He's young, but you can't keep a good thing down.
For those unfamiliar with either I thought I’d go into a little more detail about them individually and what we can expect this season from them…
Jack Byrne - SC Cambuur
Having turned 19 in April, Byrne was always likely to move on this summer. He’s a fiery, technical attacking midfielder, equally as capable in an advanced central midfield role as he is sitting deeper dictating possession. Now feels the right time to test him at a higher level to iron out any inconsistencies in his game. He’s experienced all that youth football has to offer, and he’s handled it well. Scholes comparisons have been drawn, and they’re easy to see why. He has an eye for goal, notching up six strikes in the u19s’ run to Uefa Youth League quarter-finals, most being pretty spectacular, and like Scholes he shares a similarly telescopic range of passing with a real calmness to his game. His fondness for a more exuberant challenge doesn’t do the comparison any harm either…
However, it's been speculated by others that his long-term future may be in a more Xavi-esque role and that could be true. He spreads the play exceptionally well, twisting and turning, possessing that almost La Masia-esque sixth sense. And he passes with a real purpose too, not simply just sideways, repeatedly, as most midfield playmakers have the knack of doing these days. There was times last season where he was consistently fantastic, exerting his authority on games, demanding the ball at his feet or simply timing a run perfectly behind the defensive line to make himself free for a ball through on goal. It didn’t always quite come off though, naturally. Like a few others he went off the boil a tad towards the end of the year, but that is to be expected for any young footballer and City’s kids played more football than most. It’s a vital part of their development, learning from the inevitable dips in form to find a way to pick yourself up again. The important thing is that the talent is there, and it just needs to be nurtured.
The Eredivise should be a good experience for him. The league has a knack for producing incredibly talented attacking midfielders, and he’ll have the space to express himself and pass the ball without the fear of being physically over-crowded - while at the same time learning what its like to play against people much bigger and older than him. Cambuur seem a good club and it says a lot about his character that he’s willing to move abroad, with most players based in England often unwilling. The partnership City have seemingly developed with Cambuur seems pretty sturdy, brought on by Rusnak and Bytiqi’s loan moves there last season and they’ve already made positive noises surrounded Byrne’s arrival handing him their number 10 shirt. A prestigious accolade at any club, never mind for a team based in a league renowned for world famous number 10s. It suggests he’ll surely get regular football, and in a league that’s genial with its approach to young footballers too so it should be an exciting season. Many greats have found the Eredivise a welcoming first step into the game and Byrne will hope to be another treading the same path. If he does, then he might even find international recognition with Roy Keane already signalling himout as one to watch. City will be keeping a close eye on his development.
Angelino - New York City FC.
Angelino's great. He really is. He's a fantastic little footballer - intelligent, technically brilliant and a tireless worker. He'll run all day for you, and then run again some more just for the sake of it - that rare mixture of extreme technical ability and boundless energy. Vieira was incredibly positive recently towards the little Spanish left-back, declaring his love for Angelino just days after he confirmed his loan move to New York. He's clearly thought highly of at the club, and though he may not be 'ready' quite yet with fears for his defensive capabilities justified, the positivity surrounding him isn't misguided. Having signed for City back in 2013 he's starred ever since with his lung-bursting runs down the left flank, linking up excellently with Brandon Barker, intelligently overlapping when going forward. He possesses a wicked left foot and though it's clear that he's at his most comfortable going forward with much to learn still going backwards, there's plenty of hope for encouragement. He's a learner, and its unlikely Jordi Alba was any better defensively at the same age and they both possess a very similar playing style. Both nippy, technically efficient footballers blessed with a forwards instinct, and given Kolarov and Clichy are both around the age of thirty, he's likely been earmarked as a potential first teamer, not too unlike his compatriot Pablo Maffeo over at right-back.
There's been some criticism of the level of football that he'll experience in the MLS. Yes, it isn't the best league and chances are he'll be a better footballer than most technically, but that's already the case at EDS level. The one thing the EDS doesn't provide though is experience, nous and all the niggly little physical things that come from playing against seasoned pros. The MLS does. They'll be quicker, stronger and more nuanced opponents, ones who will know how to get the better of his naivety just through having played the game at a higher level, for longer. There's also the factor that he'll be playing in games that actually matter in front of crowds of many thousands - New York City have averaged around 30,000 so far this season and attendances in the MLS are increasingly on the rise. He'll also line up alongside world stars like Pirlo, Lampard and David Villa every week too – not something to be shirked at. He'll struggle not to learn and grow surrounded in an environment alongside players of that ilk.
It could be that this move is just a stop gap for Angelino, a short spell designed to smooth out a few of the rougher edges he has before returning in November as City look for a second loan move later in the season to a traditionally more competitive European league. It’s possibly even a testing ground for the management too, seeing how NYCFC operates as a potential place to send promising young stars. Either way, he won't turn 19 until January so time is on his side, and he certainly wouldn’t be fazed by any potential fatigue problems. It's likely that the club saw the opportunity of almost guaranteed first team football where they can monitor his development as freely as they wish as one simply far too good to turn down. On paper it probably is. It’s the closest we have to a B-team scenario. And he won’t regress - he will surely learn something and if he doesn’t, then it’s only three or four months lost. If he eventually shows himself a level above the league, which is probably to be expected, then we move him on to a more challenging environment. If he doesn't, then well we know its too soon. Win win. Either way, expect Angelino to have a career near alongside football's elite. His attitude will earn it.
As ever, there will be articles here on any other pre-season games or confirmed moves as and when they happen...