Manchester City youngster Brandon Barker has told the club’s official website of his delight at getting his first senior run-out in Wednesday’s 2-0 friendly win over Hamburg in Abu Dhabi.
Goals from Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko gave the Blues a win, in a match which also saw Barker’s Elite Development Squad teammates Bersant Celina, George Evans and Thierry Ambrose make an appearance, having joined the first-team for their mid-season break.
The promising winger was the only one of the four to start the game, however, and, after a solid 45-minute outing, was delighted to get a brief taste of what life is like at the top level.
“It was great to make my debut, even if it was only a friendly,” he said. “There were some really great players on display, so it was really great to play.
“It’s a big reward for the season we’ve had and it’s great to come here.
“The stadium’s fantastic – I don’t think I’ve played in a bigger one than this – and it just gives you a little taste of what could be.
“All of the first-team guys have been really good. I expect that because when you come up they are very welcoming, and they’ve been great with me.”
Aged 18, Barker was named Academy Player’s Player of the Year last season after scoring 13 times in 32 appearances for the Under-18s, and this term has hit three goals in eight games for the Under-21s.
The promising left winger has also recorded four goals and four assists in six UEFA Youth League outings, as well as starring for England Under-19s, and EDS coach Patrick Vieira believes he has the potential to go right to the top.
“Brandon is a proper talent,” the Frenchman told M.E.N. Sport this week. “He needs to work hard, he needs to work well but I believe that Brandon has the potential to be a really good player and only he can decide the levels.
“It is up to him how much he wants it because he has got the talent. If he works well and develops himself and is really ambitious, he has fantastic potential to be a Premier League player.”
City have been accused in recent seasons of failing to develop their young talent alongside the star-studded first-team but, in the case of Barker, it looks like they might just have a prospect capable of starring with the likes of David Silva and Sergio Aguero.
He still has a long way to go, of course, but it’s certainly encouraging to see the club’s efforts on the academy front start to bear fruit.