Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Arab Trillionaires Have to Protect Heartbeat of Our Game, Says Pearce; Local Boy Done Good: Central Defender Micah Richards Has Risen through the Ranks at Manchester City Big Dream: Consortium Frontman Sulaiman Al Fahim (above) Wants More Foreigners to Join Robinho (Left) at City but That Could Have an Impact on Fabio Capello's England Team

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Arab Trillionaires Have to Protect Heartbeat of Our Game, Says Pearce; Local Boy Done Good: Central Defender Micah Richards Has Risen through the Ranks at Manchester City Big Dream: Consortium Frontman Sulaiman Al Fahim (above) Wants More Foreigners to Join Robinho (Left) at City but That Could Have an Impact on Fabio Capello's England Team

Article excerpt

Byline: Ken Dyer, Simon Johnson

IT sounds absurd. Surely it can't be taken seriously? Do Manchester City really think they can sign Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres? The statement made by Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim that City will spend what it takes to build a fantasy football XI will have had the club's supporters drooling.

Never in a trillion years could they have anticipated that this could be happening.

Splashing the cash will not be a problem for Dr Fahim and his consortium from Abu Dhabi who could well end up changing the face of the Premier League for good.

"If we can get the biggest players in the world, we will get them," he said.

And yet, the three he dreams of recruiting; the one City signed Robinho; and the one that got away Dimitar Berbatov all had one thing in common.

None are English.

Transfer deadline day was a frenzy of activity with over ?100million spent on players most of whom were foreign.

The biggest sum paid for an English player was the ?2.5m Stoke parted with for Danny Higginbotham from Derby.

If Fabio Capello is already worried about the quantity of players he has at his disposal for the national team, it is about to get much worse if City's new owners get their way and if more similarly-minded investors buy into the Premier League.

On Sunday, City had six players from their academy in their squad for the 3-0 win at Sunderland. They are the holders of the FA Youth Cup after beating Chelsea over two legs last season.

Stuart Pearce worked hard to develop the local talent during his two years as manager at Eastlands. He continues to work with keeper Joe Hart, defender Micah Richards and midfielder Michael Johnson in his capacity as England Under-21 manager. All three are in his squad for Friday night's clash with Portugal at Wembley and Pearce believes it is essential that the new Arab owners keep the local players at the heart of any plans they have.

Pearce said: "We cannot afford to lose the academy system and the affinity that system encourages with the supporters.

"Who wants to watch their club pay ?15m or more for players when they can cheer on one of their own? "Clubs such as City, Middlesbrough, West Ham and Aston Villa, have all earned reputations of developing their young home-grown talent and it's so important they carry on with that philosophy.

"Shaun Wright-Phillips is an example.

He came through the academy system at Manchester City and then eventually went away to Chelsea. He's back at City now and the fans are delighted because they have that affinity with him. He came through their system, he's a genuine lad and he gave everything to the City cause when he was there the first time." Pearce, though, is confident that young English talent like Hart, Richards and Johnson will survive the foreign takeovers of English clubs and the inevitable arrival of more high-profile players from abroad. …

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