Manchester City: Top 5 Current Prospects Most Likely to Shine in 2013

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIDecember 27, 2012

Manchester City: Top 5 Current Prospects Most Likely to Shine in 2013

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    "Prospects? For Manchester City? They can afford any player they want. What do they need with prospects?" So might say the average Premiership fan.

    Fair enough. Manchester City's wage bill for 2011-2012 was £178.1 million, up £26.5 million from the prior season. Backed by Sheikh Mansour's billions, City's football operations brain trust need not find diamonds in the rough the way clubs like Everton and Stoke City must.

    If City needs a diamond, they go to the jeweler and buy the biggest, prettiest diamond they want to.

    Still, per the Daily Mail Financial Fair Play rules loom large for 2013-2014. City would prefer not to end up on the wrong side of that line.

    It would therefore benefit the club to blood some of its younger (read also as "cheaper") players in hopes of readying them for play next season.

    FFP rules are likely to make the prospect of suffering through the growing pains of a new boy preferable to paying the likes of Kolo Toure 120,000 pounds weekly.

Karim Rekik

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    The 18-year-old Dutch defender is officially in the history books after his debut against Reading at the weekend. Admittedly, it is not much of a player profile at this point.

    According to Manchester City's club site, Rekik was a member of the Netherlands side that won the 2011 UEFA European Under 17 Championships, scoring his team's first goal against Germany along the way.

    Given City's foibles on the back line so far this season, the Sky Blues are hoping Rekik can be ready sooner than later.

Denis Suarez

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    An 18-year-old midfielder, Suarez has yet to appear for Manchester City in the Premier League. Roberto Mancini did give him a start at the Etihad in September for City's Capital One Cup fixture with Aston Villa; Suarez was substituted after 61 minutes.

    Yaya Toure, David Silva, James Milner and Samir Nasri have virtual locks on City's midfield spots, with veterans like Javi Garcia and Scott Sinclair also in the mix. Jack Rodwell and Abdul Razak project to have claims on the bulk of the reserve minutes 

    You could say City is lousy with midfielders, especially given the play of Rodwell and Nasri, you would be spot on when saying that.

    Again, though, City is faced with the prospect of Financial Fair Play rules inhibiting their ability to pay starters' wages to seven or eight midfielders. A player like Suarez may benefit from the need to erase salaries in 2013-2014.

Courtney Meppen-Walter

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    Per the Daily Mail, 18-year-old defender Courtney Meppen-Walter made the wrong type of headlines this past September, after being involved in a vehicular accident which left two people dead.

    This may or may not explain why Meppen-Walter has appeared in only two of the six matches Manchester City's U19 side has played. He scored against the Juventus U19 side on Oct. 31.

    As with Rekik, Meppen-Walter has a reasonable opportunity to ascend to the big club because of City's relatively-underwhelming defensive acumen and the team's need to dump salary going forward.

    Matija Nastasic is only 19 years old and began the season as an unknown quantity (for BPL purposes) brought in at the transfer window. At this point, Nastasic might be City's third-best defender after Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta.

    The opportunity is there for a player like Meppen-Walter.

Jose Angel Pozo

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    On the one hand, if Real Madrid figured that 16-year-old attacker Jose Angel Pozo was expendable, that may not indicate imminent stardom.

    However, per Express, the answer may have been a change of scenery in that first team chances at Real Madrid were just not there.

    Pozo scored against Juventus' U19 side for Manchester City's U19 side on Nov. 8.

    As long as City can afford to pay Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli full wages to play part-time roles, Pozo is probably dealing with a glass-ceiling problem.

    But time is certainly in his favor.

Player to Be Named Later

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    Not to undercut the premise of this piece...but for clubs like Manchester City, prudence and conservatism are all well and good in theory.

    But then Mancini looks at the table and sees his side seven points behind Manchester United. The next call he makes is to the Sheikh asking for another £20 million for rising stars like defender Sime Vrsaljko and highly-touted midfielder Alen Halilovic.

    Maybe Financial Fair Play can be a tomorrow problem, right, boss?