Darko Gyabi is the latest symbol of Man City academy transformation – Simon Bajkowski

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It is not unkind to say that many Manchester City fans will not have heard of Darko Gyabi before Friday. Even if you take a particular interest in the academy sides, the former Millwall youngster spent the first half of the last campaign injured on the sidelines before coming back into the Under-23 side that won the Premier League 2 title under coach Brian Barry-Murphy .

And yet, Leeds United have agreed a deal to sign the 18-year-old midfielder for a fee of £ 5m. Despite him featuring in exactly zero first team squads under Pep Guardiola, a Premier League club is willing to splash a substantial fee on him.

It helps of course that the same club are getting £ 45m from City for Kalvin Phillips, but it does reflect a change in the game in recent years that the City academy has adapted for and is now aiding the first team strategy with. As well as having more players ready for the City first team, the academy have never been better at supplying talent for the top flight.

Also read: Kalvin Phillips set for start of Man City pre season camp after Leeds move

Selling academy youngsters for big fees is not a recent phenomenon, and Brahim Diaz, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Angus Gunn are some of the players who moved to big clubs for good money when it became clear their time at City was up. Nor is it uncommon for the bigger clubs to seek a bargain from other academies; City picked up Liam Delap from Derby and Sam Edozie and Gyabi from Millwall, while Leeds were one of the clubs who took advantage of Wigan’s desperate plight a few years ago as they signed Joe Gelhardt for an incredibly low fee.

However, there has been a noted increase in recent years of Premier League clubs doing what Bundesliga sides have recently specialized in and offering game time to those in top-six academies who feel they are ready for top-flight football. Southampton and Brighton have been the two sharpest off the blocks for this, with Ralph Hasenhuttl winning the race to sign Chelsea’s Tino Livramento last summer a year after Brighton signed Tariq Lamptey from Chelsea; their pair have also turned their attention to Manchester, with Brighton putting a bid in for playmaker James McAtee in January and Southampton signing goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu for an initial £ 12m this summer.

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As a result of the work in the academy in recent years, City have never had more youngsters rated by Premier League clubs as they do now – and that gives them a boost in the transfer market that they have never had before. Such is the standard that has been set at the City Football Academy, clubs that City are looking to do business with can now inquire about throwing a youngster into the mix knowing that the quality they are going to get while the player gets the opportunity to start their Premier League career earlier than they would be able to at the Etihad.

Gyabi fits this bill. A defensive midfielder that oozes class on the ball while also having impressive physicality for his age and a superb engine to support attack as well as defense is one of the many gems that have been developed in the academy, and the 18-year-old has already shown many of the qualities needed to make for a very good career in the game.

With City signing a £ 45m player in his position to add to Rodri who is already there, it makes sense for Gyabi to consider his options but it is testament to his skill and to the polishing of his game that he can head straight to a Premier League club. There is still development needed, yet he has already earned a terrific move for his age.

City’s influence on the England national team has grown under Guardiola, with Gareth Southgate making full use of the personnel and strategies from the Etihad. Thanks to the academy, as well as helping their transfer kitty, City’s influence on the English game is now growing as more of their graduates begin to pop up in the top flight.

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