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English Premier League

Blue moon in Beijing: Premier League leaders give thumbs up for China academy to teach football the ‘Manchester City way’

City coaches will pass on Pep Guardiola’s playing style from next September with pupils also set to travel to train at the club’s Manchester academy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 December, 2017, 5:37pm

English Premier League leaders Manchester City have announced they will open their first soccer academy in China in partnership with Beijing’s Kaiwen Education Group.

The Kaiwen Manchester City Football School promises to “replicate the training philosophy implemented by both City’s Academy teams and that of Pep Guardiola’s first team squad”.

Set to launch in the Chinese capital in September 2018, the new project will offer a “unique curriculum for aspiring young footballers” with City Football Schools coaches in charge of training sessions delivered alongside traditional education.

Damian Willoughby, senior vice-president of partnerships at City Football Group (CFG), said: “We are excited to extend Manchester City’s presence in Chinese education and provide more young players with the opportunity to improve their talents through playing the City way.”

The club and the Beijing Kaiwen Academy, the Kaiwen Education Group’s school in Beijing, were already partners and news of a Beijing Kaiwen Academy Manchester City Football School was first announced on the school’s website in May.

The state-of-the-art school, which opened in August 2016, is located in Beijing’s Haidian district and offers bilingual Mandarin and English education and boarding facilities to exclusively Chinese pupils.

Both Porto and Bayern Munich have previously visited the school to perform coaching sessions with the pupils but the City partnership establishes a permanent link and will include opportunities for young players to travel to Manchester to train at the City Football Academy.

Other sports partners listed by the school include the China Open tennis tournament, IMG, Major League Baseball and the PGA. The group has also stated its aim of opening three more schools by 2020 in recruitment adverts.

Speculation has grown that CFG, which owns Manchester City and its expanding network of professional clubs across the globe, will expand into the Chinese domestic league since it sold a 13 per cent stake to Shanghai-based China Media Capital for US$400 million in 2015, a move that came days after Chinese president Xi Jinping had visited City’s training base.

After Xi Jinping’s visit, Manchester City have massive plans for China

CFG’s chief commercial officer Tom Glick told City AM in March that CFG was focused on China and that could involve a club at some point in the future, while the first team were set to play a Manchester derby in Beijing in 2016 before the game was called off.

The runaway league leaders have their eyes on a historic quadruple of Premier League, both domestic cups and the Uefa Champions League. China international Sun Jihai spent six years at City from 2002 to 2008.