Meet Manchester City's Spanish academy sensation who's next in line to succeed

Steven Allweis profiles José Ángel Pozo, who is hoping to break through at the Etihad...

The 60-second story

FACT FILE

  • Full name: José Ángel Pozo La Rosa
  • Date of birth: March 15, 1996
  • Place of birth: Málaga, Spain
  • Height: 5ft 7in
  • Position: Striker
  • Club: Manchester City (1 sub appearance, 1 goal)
  • Former club: Real Madrid
  • Country: Spain (capped at U18 level)

From Málaga to Manchester via Madrid, José Ángel Pozo is the jewel in Manchester City’s academy crown. Signed in early 2012 for just over £2 million from Real Madrid, the Spanish striker has caught the eye at junior level, most recently under the stewardship of Patrick Vieira, and in September he made his first-team debut in the League Cup.

Born in Málaga, Pozo joined Real Madrid at the age of 11, spending five years in the Spanish capital before City fought off competition from the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and a whole host of sides abroad for his signature.

In his first full season in England, the now 18-year-old was nominated for Academy Player of the Year and subsequently signed professional terms in July 2013, but a serious ankle injury sidelined him for a lengthy period and restricted him to just nine starts in the 2013/14 campaign.

Pozo fought back from the injury to return in time for the start of the current season, and in a series of promising displays, particularly at Under-19 level in the UEFA Youth League, he has reminded City supporters of his immense talent.

Why you need to know him

Manuel Pellegrini is known to be a huge admirer, inviting him to train on several occasions with the first team, and the Chilean handed Pozo his debut in this season’s League Cup clash with Sheffield Wednesday.

Named on the bench, the Spaniard replaced Yaya Touré just after the hour mark and, with a typically composed strike in the 88th minute, capped his special moment with his first goal in professional football.

If his cup cameo was the first time many fans had seen him in the flesh, those hardy souls who regularly watch youth team football would have recognised Pozo’s burst of pace, direct running and cool head in the box.

Indeed, in the youth version of the Champions League he's been City’s standout performer, notching three goals in four games and assisting a handful more to help fire the Blues to the knockout stages with two games to spare.

Strengths

For much of the U21 season he has been stationed out wide as one of a front three, and it's this position from which he has utilised his pace to burst beyond defenders.

Naturally right-footed, he tends to cut in from the left and, in the manner of Sergio Aguero, his low centre of gravity enables him to drift past opponents on the run.

For the U19s he operates as a central striker, and it's clear that his finishing is his major strength. He is very calm when presented with a goalscoring opportunity, adept at finding space in the box and firing home, while equally confident in his ability to pick his spot from outside the area in clinical fashion. Give him a chance and at the very least he will hit the target.

Weaknesses

A slight frame means that he can be pushed off the ball by more physical opponents, and he is not always the first to track back after being dispossessed. While he invariably makes things happen on the ball, he does also have the tendency to suffer quiet spells and drift out of matches.

They said...

“Pozo is a really good prospect for us, he's a player we believe in a lot,” Pellegrini declared after handing Pozo his first-team debut. “Last season he was unlucky to have an injury in his ankle and it was a long time he was trying to recover, but he has shown a great level presently. I'm sure he will continue in the squad.”

Speaking a couple of weeks ago after the striker scored twice against CSKA Moscow to drive City's U19s to victory in the UEFA Youth League, boss Vieira declared: “That is what we expect from him, he’s a fantastic goalscorer. What I’m really pleased about is that he’s getting better and better. Sometimes people forget that he was out for seven months last year and he’s now just getting to his best. He’s a wonderful talent.”

Did you know?

TALENTSPOTTER RATINGS

  • Shooting 9
  • Heading 4
  • Passing 7
  • Tackling 5
  • Pace 8
  • Dribbling 8
  • Creativity 7
  • Work-rate 6

Pozo’s younger brother, Iker, plays in midfield for City’s U14 side, and there could be some friendly sibling rivalry ahead. José describes Iker as a “very quality player”.

What’s next?

After the summer departure of Alvaro Negredo to Valencia, there are only three recognised strikers at Pellegrini’s disposal: Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic. If one of those were to pick up an injury, Pozo would be the first in line to make the step up.

There has been some talk of a loan deal in recent weeks, with Nottingham Forest reportedly interested, but nothing is expected to happen until January. Depending on City’s FA Cup third round opponent, Pozo may get another opportunity to showcase his talent to a wider audience.