NEW YORK — With Manchester City as the majority owners of new MLS expansion side New York City FC, many fans are already fantasizing about the star power that could make its way to the Big Apple when the team kicks off in 2015.
But NYCFC's owners have a greater vision for their club than merely signing big names. In fact, the philosophy sounds more akin to academy-oriented Barcelona than free-spending English giants Manchester City.
"Our intention is to work with kids from a really young age and, in the future, beginning at the age of five years old," Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano told ESPN Deportes Radio's Jorge Ramos y Su Banda. "And we want these kids to be from New York and to learn with us how to play soccer, but first to love soccer.
"And in 10 years, we need to have a team with a core of players who have learned to play soccer with us and who understand the philosophy and the style of play. These players will be helped by big [star] players we're going to bring. But we want the heart of the team to be local talent."
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On Wednesday, former Manchester City midfielder Patrick Vieira, who is set to take over the English side's elite development squad, noted how NYCFC's youth and those of Manchester City will follow "the same philosophy."
"We will share the same way of developing young talent," Vieira said. "I think this is why it will be really exciting. Because bringing our knowledge and how we develop young players will be the same in New York."
A flourishing youth development system will help NYCFC meet two key objectives: to be competitive within the MLS salary budget, while also showcasing what Soriano calls "beautiful football."
"We know the rules of MLS and we think we're able to build a winning team within these rules," Soriano told media on Tuesday. "I have the self-confidence of having done this before and being able to build at the times at Barcelona, building a winning team that is also sustainable, that doesn't lose money and that follows the rules.
"The only way that a football club can be successful and attract fans is developing and presenting good football," he continued. "Good football is about winning and it's also about winning in style. It's about developing beautiful football. This is what we will do.
"This is not a marketing gimmick. This is not a marketing construction. This is about developing a team that will play very good football and we will have a chance to win. We believe we can do that."