Manchester City to help Abu Dhabi footballers shoot for the top

Young footballers will be trained at the UK base of the Premier League champions as part of bid to develop UAE talent

Promising young footballers from Abu Dhabi will be sent for coaching at Manchester City’s UK training facility under a deal designed to develop their talent.

Abu Dhabi Sports Council has signed a three-year deal with the Premier League champions, and parent company City Football Group, which will also see UAE-based coaches flown over to Etihad Campus in Manchester to improve their skills in areas such as fitness, nutrition and sports science.

The £200m (Dh970m) base, which officially opened in 2014, is widely seen as one of the best training facilities in the world. It boasts 16 football pitches and has been praised by the likes of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, who has trained there with Argentina.

The Abu Dhabi footballers and coaches being flown to the 18-acre campus may also have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the likes of Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne, with the first team also using the Etihad Campus, which is next to Manchester City's home stadium.

“This agreement is a significant milestone between City Football Group and Abu Dhabi Sports Council to promote and further develop the football skills of footballers and coaches from Abu Dhabi,” Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said.

“In this context, the Memorandum of Understanding we have signed, along with its accompanying action plan, brings our work in line with the goals and targets that include coach and player development programmes.

“I would like to express again my sincere thanks to City Football Group in making this agreement a reality with goodwill, clear ambitions and a strong commitment to work together.”

The three-year agreement will run until the end of 2021. It will see 16 players and 16 staff make the journey every year, with the first group Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, owns the Abu Dhabi United Group, which has an 87 per cent stake in City Football Group.

The Abu Dhabi-based ownership of Manchester City has previously led to the first team training in the emirate. City Football Group already operates soccer schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for three to 18-year-olds.

“City Football Group has developed powerful and engaging football programmes in Abu Dhabi and this agreement shows our commitment to keep on supporting football in the emirate,” said Olivier Turkel, Regional Director MENA at City Football Group.

“We look forward to welcoming players, coaches and executives to Manchester and working with them in the years ahead.”