James McAtee – Manchester City’s next David Silva

Rahul Madhavan
By Rahul Madhavan
6 Min Read

Salford-born James McAtee has been in impressive form for Manchester City Premier League 2 side. In just 8 games he has scored 13 goals and assisted thrice for club and country. He won the Premier League 2 Player of the month for August and is making heads turn including Manchester City’s manager – Pep Guardiola.

A number 10, known for his elegance on the ball and silky nature – the young midfielder makes football look easy. Upon asking who his favorite player was back in 2014 he replied “David Silva” and it is no surprise that he is modeling his game like the City legend himself. Similar to David Silva, he’s a wonderful technician and is known for his ability to control the tempo of a game.

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McAtee was handed the armband for the PL 2 side for a couple of games this season and the extra responsibility does not faze him. Instead, he seems to thrive on being the leader of a talented City side. Brain Barry-Murphy, the new manager of this Manchester City PL 2 side was full of praise for McAtee’s glowing form at the start of the season but also feels he can improve even more. He told: “James’ attitude to these games has been spot on but I think we can push him even harder. I think there is loads of his game he can still develop, and he’ll know that as he’s a very intelligent player.”

Manchester City PL 2 team were trailing in the game against RB Leipzig in the UEFA Youth Champions League and up stepped James McAtee with a brilliant goal to make it 1-1. The game ended 5-1 in City’s favour with McAtee scoring twice. For the equalizer, he positions himself in the pocket of space between two players like a typical number 10 and sublimely receives the ball on the half-turn.

With one turn he leaves two players stranded and drives into space – the defender backs off and McAtee drills a fierce shot into the bottom corner of the net, leaving the goalkeeper no chance to save it.  His sharpness, ability to read the game, and usage of his feet quickly are showcased here.

The under-23 side were struggling to break down Blackburn Rovers after a cagey first half in the opening game of the Premier League 2. McAtee eventually scored a hat-trick and his first goal was an example of his ability to identify space and score goals. Here he comes centrally which drags the centre-half out of position.

Once again he is the first to identify the space behind the centre-back and immediately makes a run towards the goal. The ball is played to perfection and McAtee finishes off the move. The knack of arriving at the right place in the right time will be a huge asset as he develops.

Pep Guardiola introduced McAtee in the second half of a preseason game against Preston and he impressed his manager with a David Silva-esque assist. He receives the ball in the left half space before executing a dummy on the helpless defender. A move like that on his debut for the senior side shows the amount of confidence he carries.

After performing the exquisite skill, he quickly spots the winger on the far side making a run, and completes a no-look pass. A move his idol David Silva would have been proud of. Throughout the second half of that game, his ability to control the game and wait of the pass was prominent.

McAtee is a former Manchester United youth player who left the club at the age of 11 to join local rivals City. On Tuesday he made his debut for the senior side in the Carabao Cup against Wycombe. Pep Guardiola introduced him in the 70th minute of the game at left-back but McAtee says he is happy just to make his debut. He will be pleased when he realises that Phil Foden, Manchester City’s star boy made his first start for the club as a left-wing-back back in 2017.

The boy nicknamed “Salford Silva” is already a favorite among the City fans and will soon be ready to play in the first team if he continues to post impressive numbers. Phil Foden’s pathway is an example to McAtee as Guardiola will look to nurture him slowly and evolve him into an all-round midfielder. Until then the Spaniard will expect him to continue his development in the Elite Development Squad (EDS).

MUST READ: Highly rated youngster Cole Palmer to follow Phil Foden’s footsteps in Manchester City first team

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