Manchester City invested heavily in the summer of 2015, signing the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Nicolás Otamendi. One of the more low-key signings was 18-year-old Aleix García from Villarreal. A Spanish youth international, Aleix was already pushing for first-team football with Villarreal before his move to the Etihad, having made his La Liga debut against Athletic Bilbao just a few months before his switch to City.
Fast forward a year and after impressing for City’s Elite Development Squad, García is now part Pep Guardiola’s first-team fold and was handed his Premier League debut against Bournemouth on 17 September. A late substitute in that game, Aleix impressed in the 15 minutes he was on the pitch, looking comfortable under pressure and completing 100% of his 19 passes. Days later, he was named man of the match and scored his first City goal as the Blues beat Swansea City in the EFL Cup.
Having only turned 19 in June, the midfielder has great potential that has already been recognised by Pep. Aleix was kind enough to talk to City Watch this week about life in Manchester, his favourite position, friends at the club, and of course, Pep Guardiola.
How has your first year been in Manchester, Aleix? It’s much different to Spain (especially the weather!), but do you enjoy life here? And do you ever miss Villarreal?
My first year in Manchester has been different in a good way. The biggest difference with Spain is the climate, which is much better there (hahaha), but I’ve adapted very well and truth is I am very happy here. It was harder at the beginning as I missed Villarreal since I played there for ten years. That being said, I’m feeling pretty comfortable here.
Was it a difficult choice to leave Villarreal for Manchester City? You had already played for Villarreal’s first-team and there is intense competition for places at City, so it was a big decision.
I have to say it was a very hard decision since I was feeling pretty comfortable back at Villarreal. It has been the team that has given me everything since I was a kid, but I decided to think about my future and even though I had a lot of opportunities in Villarreal I didn’t think twice about joining Manchester City, because I wanted to play with one of the best teams in the world, together with the best players. I was convinced this would help me to improve and become a great football player.
What would you say your best position on the pitch is?
I have always been an attacking midfielder or media punta (behind the striker). I even played as a centre forward when I was younger, but I have to say I feel quite comfortable with the role I have been assigned since I joined Manchester City, which is a ‘6’, a defensive midfielder.
Are there any players at the club you admire or model yourself after?
When I arrived, I decided to look at my team-mates since they are all wonderful players, and I never imagined I could end up playing with footballers like them. But I must say I now keep a special eye on those that play my role, such as Fernandinho, Fernando and others in midfield, in order to continue learning and improving.
Who are your good friends at the club, in the EDS and first team?
My good friends are Pablo Maffeo, Angeliño, Erik (Sarmiento) and Paolo (Fernandes), who have all helped me since I arrived. I have also made great friendships with Thierry (Ambrose) and others, but the Spaniards are those who I get along with most with as my English is not the best and it is hard to interact with British mates.
Pep Guardiola gave you a Premier League debut at the weekend against Bournemouth. Just how did it feel when you came on and the City fans cheered you?
It was the best experience that I have ever had and that a player can have. A dream come true. I have to thank our coach for the opportunity and to my team-mates since they helped me feel more comfortable and play in my own way, but I am aware I have to continue working hard.
Speaking of Pep, how much are you enjoying working with him? City fans already love him and the players have said good things about his training sessions – what are your thoughts?
I really am enjoying the opportunity Pep has granted me. Working with him is pretty different compared to all the coaches I have had and I feel pretty much compatible with his style of play, and I like his ideas. I want to continue working hard and give him a reason to continue trusting me.
Finally, having been here just over a year now, how is your English coming along?
My English is currently much better than it was when I arrived, but there is still a long way to go. I intend to keep studying in order to achieve a perfect level of English.
Thanks for talking to City Watch, Aleix. I’m sure I speak on behalf of all City fans when I wish you good luck this season and beyond!