Five young players handed their debut by Pep Guardiola.
Pep Guardiola has splashed the cash on big-name signings throughout his illustrious managerial career at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. However, the tactical mastermind has also shown a willingness to trust in youth when the situation calls for it.
Guardiola handed senior debuts to a number of precociously gifted teenagers during his time in charge of those clubs. But what became of the most youthful prospects that got their first taste of professional football under the watchful eye of the Catalan coach?
In descending order of their tender age at the time, here are the 5 youngest players that Pep gave debuts to before they were legally allowed to buy alcohol. Some went on to become global superstars, while others faded into obscurity. All were once viewed as potential world-beaters by one of the sharpest minds in football.
Phil Foden was 17 years and 177 days old when he made his senior debut under Pep Guardiola in a Champions League match against Feyenoord in November 2017. The Manchester City academy product replaced Yaya Toure in the 75th minute for his first taste of first-team action. Foden showed flashes of his immense potential in his cameo performance, completing 100% of his passes. Since that debut, Foden has gone on to become a key player for Guardiola, establishing himself as one of the brightest young talents in world football.
Spanish attacking midfielder Brahim Diaz was 17 years and 139 days old when he made his Manchester City debut under Pep Guardiola in a League Cup tie against Leicester City in December 2017. Diaz replaced Yaya Toure in the second half and displayed glimpses of his technical quality in his brief cameo. Just a couple months later, Diaz made his Premier League debut against Arsenal, replacing Sergio Aguero in the 83rd minute. After making limited appearances for Guardiola, Diaz joined Real Madrid in 2019 to gain more playing time and continues to develop as a promising young talent.
Spanish midfielder Adrian Bernabe was just 17 years and 118 days old when Pep Guardiola handed him his senior debut in a Copa del Rey match against Cultural Leonesa in December 2018. Bernabe came on as a second half substitute to replace Oleksandr Zinchenko in the unfamiliar position of left back. He showed some nervousness but also demonstrated his technical quality in his brief time on the pitch. However, that remains Bernabe’s only senior appearance for Manchester City to date, as he has since been sent out on loan and is yet to break into Guardiola’s first team plans.
Defender Marc Muniesa was just 17 years and 114 days old when he was handed his Barcelona debut by Pep Guardiola in April 2009. The young center-back replaced Carles Puyol late on during a La Liga win over Real Sociedad for his first senior appearance. Just a month later, Muniesa made his first Champions League appearance under Guardiola, again coming off the bench against Dynamo Kyiv. After showing early promise, Muniesa struggled with injuries and never fully established himself at Barca, making just 32 appearances before joining Stoke City in 2013.
Liam Delap was only 17 years and 89 days old when he was handed his senior debut by Pep Guardiola in September 2020. The teenage striker came off the bench in a League Cup tie against Bournemouth to replace Riyad Mahrez. Delap made an immediate impact by scoring his first professional goal just 18 minutes into his City debut. Since that impressive start, the young English prospect has gone on to make a handful of first-team appearances under Guardiola.
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