Pep Guardiola hints Man City have found new centre back in Taylor Harwood-Bellis
Harwood-Bellis got the nod after an impressive season with the under-23s, and in the run to the FA Youth Cup final.
His part in the tour seemed in doubt when his granddad’s funeral was scheduled for the day before the squad flew out, but Guardiola assured him he was in the plans and then picked him to start against West Ham in Nanjing.
Harwood-Bellis was the only outfield player who played the full 90 minutes as the Blues won 4-1, and his assured passing from the back caught the eye of the City boss.
The England under-17 captain was also given half an hour, as replacement for Aymeric Laporte, in the game against Wolves on Saturday that ended in a penalty shoot-out defeat.
And that may just have secured a chance with the first team squad.
City are still eyeing Leicester centre back Harry Maguire, but with just over a fortnight until the transfer deadline day, time is running out.
Guardiola has said in the past that he was comfortable with what he already has, an indication that Nicolas Otamendi is prepared to stay after initially looking like he would ask for a move.
With Fernandinho also marked down as a possible centre back, Guardiola was not desperate to bring someone in, and City will not go beyond their valuation of Maguire.
But Guardiola gave a different answer when asked on Friday about the situation.
He said City are still looking at “some names” but added “At the same time, we have three centre-backs who can play there and we have two young players in the second team who can help us.”
One of those is undoubtedly Garcia, who was moved into the first team squad after impressing on tour last summer.
With Philippe Sandler joining Anderlecht on a season’s loan, and Joel Latibeaudiere finding his feet again after an injury-wrecked season, the second centre back to whom Guardiola appears to be referring is Harwood-Bellis.
He has a history of seizing chances – he started last season as a 16-year-old in the under-18s but injuries saw him given a chance in the under-23 elite development squad, and he soon became one of the stand-out performers.