Like several wealthy English clubs, Manchester City harvest large numbers of players with talent and potential with the intention of adding the City brand to their CV before turning a profit on them.
They usually get two bites at the revenue cherry, once when they sell them and once when they pick up a portion of the subsequent fee when the player is sold by the club who does much of the development heavy lifting. The latter part of this plan fell through for both City and Celtic when Dedryck Boyata left Glasgow out of contract in 2019. Celtic were aware the player would not sign a new contract and recruited Marvin Compper in January 2018 to allow Boyata to leave for a fee the following summer.
Compper was an unmitigated flop and without options they had any faith in, Celtic rejected a £9m bid from West Ham, which resulted in a temporary withdrawal of services by the player and the horrors of a valuable Belgian international leaving without a fee.
City did better with the £4.5m fee they received from Celtic for Olivier Ntcham four years ago. Olivier had stacks of potential but he failed to maintain a regular starting place at Celtic and was allowed to leave on loan in January. It seems unlikely that a player struggling at Celtic would be successful at Marseille and the early signs are not promising. He is very likely to pitch up at Lennoxtown in June without attracting a move to his native France and prepared to run down the final 12 months of his contract.
Despite these two poor examples, there is merit in scouring the development ranks of Europe’s largest clubs – his is how we found Odsonne Edouard, but even when the player is talented and successful, realising your investment when they inevitably leave is far from straightforward.