Pep Guardiola couldn’t hide his delight at the debut performance of teenage centre-back Eric Garcia in Manchester City’s Carabao Cup quarter-final win over Leicester City on Tuesday night.
Garcia, 17, was a surprise starter in the heart of the defence, partnering Nicolas Otamendi with John Stones pushed up into midfield, and the former Barcelona trainee followed up on some impress pre-season performances.
Looking composed and classy, stylistically perfect for a Guardiola defender, Garcia played the full 90 minutes on his competitive debut and impressed Guardiola.
“He was incredible. He has a lot – a lot – of personality,” Pep said. “In the pre-season, in the United States, he was incredible. He commanded all the [defensive] line. He played against Liverpool and Bayern Munich, he was incredible.
“He had a tough injury and for two months he could not play with us.
“He is a guy who has a lot of sense of the position. He is so smart; he is not the strongest in the air with the headers, he is not the fastest one, but few times do the opposition win one position where he is.
“He is able to guide the line and has a lot of personality to play – good vision, good passing.”
“I am very pleased for him. He did not make one mistake and with the ball he played with huge personality.”
Garcia, who was named City’s Under-18 Players’ Player of the Season in May, was considered the best defender at La Masia since Gerard Pique, with Barcelona bitterly disappointed to lose him.
The youngster will continue to develop at youth level, with Aymeric Laporte, John Stones, Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi currently ahead of him in the pecking order, but if he continues to show this form, he may well find himself permanently promoted to the first team before too long.