Why Manchester City must give Mini Messi Premier League start
A Real Madrid youth academy star who once drew comparisons with Lionel Messi, Jose Angel Pozo looks to have the world at his feet right now – but someone could do with telling Manchester City that.
On the books at the Etihad and a part of the club’s Elite Development Squad, the 19-year-old appeared to be on a cusp of a breakthrough season at Eastlands earlier this term only for things to fall a little flat in the time since.
Pozo’s City debut was pure ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff.
Named among the substitutes for a League Cup with Sheffield Wednesday, the press was awash with reports that the Spaniard could be the next big thing at the club.
Pozo, to his credit, did not disappoint, coming on for Yaya Toure in the 64th minute of said Owls clash and going on to score his first City goal with two minutes remaining.
A debut Premier League appearance duly followed with the Spaniard coming on again for City against Sunderland in December last year.
Later that month, he started his first game for the club in another victory over Leicester City, finding himself in the first-team after Edin Dzeko got injured in the warm-up.
But anyone hoping to see the striker shine in the months that followed were left sorely disappointed with Pozo gaining few in the way of first-team opportunities.
Though few would have expected the Spaniard to be regularly challenging the likes of Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony, the truth is that City’s forward line – the Argentine aside – has underwhelmed in recent months.
Dzeko has managed more goals for Bosnia than City since the start of the season while the Ivorian, who scored more goals than anyone in the Premier League over the last calendar year, has scored once in the Premier League and is currently injured.
Pellegrini and those behind the scenes at the club may point to the need to ensure a top four finish is achieved but Pozo’s presence is unlikely to dent those hopes.
Bringing the striker in to replace one of the club’s out-of-form stars could even have a positive effect on squad with too many players lacking competition for a starting berth.
It would also be seen as a positive move among fans keen to look to the future of the team rather than relying on players with fast-approaching sell-buy dates.
Meanwhile, with Liverpool five points off and likely to be low after a disappointing FA Cup exit, there is room for error at City.
Pozo may ultimately prove to be some way off the talent of Messi or even Tottenham’s Harry Kane, but how will the Sky Blues know unless they give him and those like him a chance?
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