'We've got to' - How four Champions League finalists were seen as they came through Man City academy

Manchester City will be dethroned as champions of Europe on Saturday when Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund win the Champions League.

An agonising quarter-final defeat on penalties to Real saw an end to City's effort to win the title again - but at least one of their former prospects will. Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, Felix Nmecha, and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens all spent some time being developed in the City academy, as did Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz.

The four all chose to leave City to start their first team career earlier than they expected to at the Etihad, and have all set examples to those coming through now of the level that can be reached even away from Pep Guardiola's first team. Here is a look at how three of the players were seen coming up through City's academy; Bynoe-Gittens left at 16 so was never around first-team level.

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Sancho scores twice on Under-18s debut, October 2015

"I was extremely pleased. It was probably a really good game for Jadon, he got off to a flying start," explained Under-18 coach at the time Jason Wilcox. "There's no doubt he's a talented boy. There's a lot of under-16s capable of coming into the under-18s group. But it's about pathway and making sure that when they are called upon that they're ready.

"We've got to be careful that we move them at the right time. If we move Jadon up now he could end up playing under-18s football for three years and I think we've got to keep him hungry and play him at the right time.

"Jadon's going to be a fantastic talent and I'm really looking forward to working with him because he's a talented boy who works really hard. He wants to do well, he wanted to impress last weekend and I thought for a young kid coming playing his first under-18s football match, I thought he was sensational."

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak raises first team hopes for Sancho and Brahim, May 2017

“What makes it special this [coming] year especially is that we have three or four players we can genuinely believe have a very good chance of making it to the first team. You look at [Jadon] Sancho, you look at Phil Foden, you look at Brahim Díaz, just to name a few, these are players that are extremely talented.

"These are players who have a very good chance of making it to the first team. And these are players that if you ask Pep today he will tell you they can and will be first-team players at Manchester City."

Former teammate Lorenzo Gonzalez on Sancho

"Obviously we had a team where almost every player you could see they could have a top career but always you could see that Jadon Sancho technically was amazing. He did what he wanted with the ball. You can see it now. I always said that this guy if he wanted to could be top of the world. He was such a good player and I love that he is a top person as well, like Phil [Foden] as well. We had a good team but you could see that these two were a little step in front of everyone."

Academy boss Jason Wilcox reflects on Sancho's exit, November 2017

"It's extremely disappointing but he didn't feel as though this was the right football club for him. I would probably disagree but that's Jadon's choice. I wish Jadon every choice in the future. He's a smashing kid and a bright talent.

"I look on more of a personal level because I coached him so any boys that come through the academy I'm always looking at where they're playing and how they're doing. I take pride in that. When you see players playing across the leagues that have come through our academy, we should be extremely proud."

Guardiola brings up Felix Nmecha after a game where he wasn't involved, September 2018

"It is not easy to play in the big clubs like Man City," Guardiola said. "You know my opinion of the competition they play in the second team so it's a little bit complicated but in pre-season we saw them.

"Eric Garcia played amazing in pre-season and Felix Nmecha is a guy who has a good perspective too. Today Adrian [Bernabe] played some minutes. It depends on them but if they have quality in some moments they can show us they can play."

Guardiola on Brahim after he scores twice amid Real Madrid interest, November 2018

"Playing in the top teams is not easy for young players, but he showed his qualities again. His training is always incredible, and he's really appreciated by all of us.

"He played well against Oxford [United] in the previous round. Everyone here is ready to play in the first team, otherwise he wouldn't be here.

"He knows we want him, but after that it's down to his agent and himself. We will do absolutely everything to keep him with us -afterwards he decides. We want him, but at the end, it doesn't depend on us."

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak reflects on Brahim's exit, May 2019

"I don't look at that as a negative, it's a positive. Brahim is a player we've developed in the organisation. We hoped he would pursue his career here but he made a decision, as is understandable when a Spanish player gets the nod from Real Madrid it's hard to resist.

"He's been a great part of our organisation, no hard feelings, he brought us very good financial and commercial value back to the club so it's a win for us, it's a win for him and hopefully a win for Real Madrid. Good for him, I'll follow his career.

Guardiola cites Nmecha among the top academy talent, February 2021

"Liam Delap is doing well, [Jamese] McAtee of course has incredible qualities in the pockets, Cole Palmer is still growing, Felix Nmecha is making good performances - all of them are doing well, they helped us a lot in training and they have to keep going."