Pep Guardiola, England ambitions and talks with Raheem Sterling: Who is Man City's Sheffield Wednesday target Keyendrah Simmonds?
Sheffield Wednesday look set to battle it out with a number of clubs including city rivals Sheffield United for Manchester City starlet Keyendrah Simmonds, The Star revealed this week.
The 19-year-old attacker, a close friend of recent Owls signing and former City prospect Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, is understood to be of interest to QPR as well as recently-promoted West Brom as he looks to leave the Etihad in search of first team football.
Yesterday Pep Guardiola’s men announced the £37m signing of young Spanish forward Ferran Torres, an addition that is likely to further limit any chances available to the likes of Simmonds in the coming seasons.
But who is the Owls target and what would he offer Wednesday’s squad overhaul as Garry Monk looks to instil the ‘young, hungry, dynamic’ feel he has spoken about?
Who is he?
Simmonds – better known as ‘Keke’ rather than Keyendrah – has been with City’s academy since the age of eight. He has played and scored for England at youth level and came on against both Shrewsbury Town and Scunthorpe United in the EFL Trophy in the season just gone, making a bright impact against senior first teams.
Over the past few seasons he has been among the brighter lights in one of Europe’s most glittering youth set-ups and as well as Wednesday new boy Dele-Bashiru has played alongside the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Eric Garcia for large portions of his development.
Where does he play? What’s he like?
Simmonds can play as a left-winger or as a central striker, using his pace and quick-feet to back up an exciting and direct style of play.
The 19-year-old is never far from the goal and scored a string of important goals for City’s under-18 side before finding his minutes in the under-23s cut back a touch.
Former Sheffield United forward Gareth Taylor, Simmonds’ former under-18 coach at City, spent time adapting him from an out-and-out winger to a more central threat and worked on the youngster’s physicality.
And what’s he said?
On making it to the top with England: “This generation just loves the game, and I think there’s now a feeling we can make it to the top. There’s a lot of good young ballers about, and we’re all driving each other on. The facilities here [at City] are also incredible too, so we’ve got everything we need.”
On training under Pep Guardiola: “Training with the first team was crazy man! Everyone’s got to be focussed on what they’re doing – you’ve got to make sure you’re on it when Pep’s watching. I definitely have more of a mind to try a few more special tricks while he’s watching to catch his eye.”
On learning from Raheem Sterling: “Me and Sterling speak a fair bit. He’s such a good guy to look up to. He’s always giving me advice and leading by example. He’s always telling me to do my own thing and express myself when I play. Everyone at the club knows how great a guy he is, and he’s obviously a top player as well.”