When you pair Manchester City and Spain in the same sentence, fans will understandably often draw their own thoughts and make their own assumptions about the relationship between the two. For starters we do now have Pep Guardiola, a man who gained his prestige in world football through his dominance both as a player and manager in La Liga. Likewise there are the many Spanish teams who City have faced in the Champions League in recent years, with somewhat contrasting outcomes. Whilst the recent victory over FC Barcelona in many ways felt like a coming of age for the club, City will have inevitably learnt from their Champions League clashes with Villarreal, Sevilla and defeats at the hands of the El Clásico duo in recent years. Yet perhaps most importantly however, City fans will surely now associate the club with Spain through the abundance of Spanish players to have embraced the shirt. As City’s youth development programme begins to bear fruit, the more established Spaniards David Silva and Jesus Navas could soon be ending up fending off competition for both club and country with the likes of Pablo Maffeo, Aleix Garcia and Brahim Diaz merely forming a small part of a wider network of exciting, young Spanish talent at the club.
Whether the recent increase of Spanish players at Manchester City is merely a sign of the times through the modernisation and growth of both the club and the transfer market or just simply different policies in youth recruitment remains up for debate. However for the older football fan, they will know that it hasn’t always been that way and at one time, Spanish players at the club were few and far between. Therefore let us take a trip down memory lane and see if you can remember any of these five forgotten Spanish blues.
1) Joan Angel Roman
After starting out his career at Spanish side RCD Espanyol, joining at the age of 10, the Spanish midfielder moved to Manchester City in 2009 at the age of 16 for a mere £1 million. According to the Daily Mail, it was Pablo Zabaleta was initially so impressed with Joan Roman during his time playing for the La Liga side and with his recommendation; the club then purchased the promising midfielder. Yet in his three years spent at the club, Roman’s appearances were limited solely to the reserves and as an unused substitute in the UEFA Cup against Sporting Lisbon.
With first-team football a priority for a player clearly intent on progressing in the game, Roman was presented with the opportunity to move return to his native Spain, describing his move in a series of tweets as ‘not being an easy decision to make’ but ‘the best option’ for his career and subsequently signed a professional contract with Barcelona B. However in a similar fashion to his time at Manchester City, despite a promising start to life in Spain with regular appearances for Barcelona B and a resulting loan move to Villarreal in 2014, Roman only spent three years with Barcelona before joining Sporting Braga after his contract had expired. Since joining the Portuguese side in July 2015, Roman has made a total of six appearances for Braga and has since been loaned out twice to fellow Primeira Liga team Nacional during the latter part of the 2015-16 season and more recently Slask Wroclaw of the Polish Ekstraklasa, where he can be currently found playing.