Watch ex-Town youngster Ben Knight help fire Man City into Youth Cup Final as Guardiola looks on
- Credit: Archant
Former Ipswich Town youngster Ben Knight scored twice as Manchester City progressed to the Final of the FA Youth Cup last night.
The Cambridge-born attacker – who only turned 16 last November – impressed in front of watching first team manager Pep Guardiola as West Brom were beaten 4-2 at the City Football Academy to set up a final with Liverpool.
Knight, the nephew of former England cricketer Nick Knight, moved to the Etihad Stadium last July for initial compensation understood to be around £1million with further top-ups due as his career progresses.
It was a reluctant sale. Town could potentially have played hardball over the valuation but would have then risked the move going to a tribunal, where they would almost certainly have received a lower figure, or even being poached by a foreign club for nothing.
Ultimately the Elite Player Performance Plan system means they were powerless to stop him moving on.
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Town had previously seen midfielder Harry Clarke join Arsenal (2015) and striker Charlie Brown move to Chelsea (2016), while Canadian midfielder Marcelo Flores – who was spotted on a scouting mission to the Caymen Islands – has recently joined Arsenal too.
Brown, who hails from Felixstowe, is the top scorer in this season’s UEFA Youth League with 11 goals.
Blues owner Marcus Evans expressed strong criticism of the EPPP system in the wake of Knight’s departure, but insisted he still believes Town’s academy can be at the heart of the club progressing moving forwards in a recent in-depth interview.
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Town’s staff were always impressed with Knight’s attitude as much as his undoubted ability.
Academy supremo Bryan Klug referenced a player who could ‘potentially be the best I have ever worked with’ at the Supporters’ Club AGM in 2017, with that player believed to be Knight.
Meanwhile former homegrown Ipswich star Kieron Dyer – a 33-cap England international – has said Knight could have a better career than his own, comparing the youngster’s style of play to that of Lionel Messi.
In an interview with the Manchester City website last August, Knight thanked his mum and dad, said his best personality trait was being able to talk to older people and said the best advice he’s received is ‘to be a good person’ and ‘to stay level-headed’.