Former Manchester City youngster Rabbi Matondo has opened up on his time at the Citizens, saying he 'could never say anything bad about the club' whilst also conceding that it's 'difficult' for young players in England to gain first team football at the moment.
Matondo, 18, spent two-and-a-half years with Manchester's youth teams, playing for City's U18 and U23 sides in Premier League 2, but never playing for the Citizens' senior side.
In fact, the Welshman never made City's bench under Pep Guardiola, despite him earning an international cap for Wales last November. However, Bundesliga outfit Schalke were paying attention to the winger during those u23 matches, and Matondo's record of 11 goals in 31 matches - combined with recording the fastest 20m time at City - convinced Schalke he was worth the £11.25m they forked out for his services in the January transfer window.
Now preparing to face his former club in the Champions League round of 16, Matondo spoke to iNews about his time with City: “I was at the club for two and a half years, I didn’t break into the first team. I was inspiring myself to try and break into that first team but it didn’t happen.
“Of course, Manchester City’s a great football club, great players, great manager, so there’s nothing I could say bad about them. I’m just grateful that Schalke said they’d give me opportunities and that’s what I’m getting right now, more than I would have at City.”
When Matondo left City he received an encouraging message Jadon Sancho, who also left Manchester for Borussia Dortmund: “I know it’s gonna be hard,” Sancho’s message read. “Make sure you just stay focused because it will be tough.”
Matondo has only played in two games for Schalke since his transfer, but could feature against City on Wednesday night, and discussed how other British players making the move to Germany convinced him to leave.
“Watching Jadon and Reiss [Nelson] do so well has obviously attracted a lot of us over in England trying to get first-team football.
“I know it’s difficult in England at the moment but it is what it is. I’m grateful for coming to Schalke because I knew if I came here I’d have more of an opportunity to get into the first team.
“You’ve got to make sacrifices in life. This opportunity – I couldn’t say no to it so it had to be done.”
Fortunately for City, Matondo - unlike Sancho - does have a £60m buy-back clause in his contract, so time will tell if he will one day return to play for Guardiola.