The loan system really is a wonderful thing. It can be utilised by smaller clubs who wish to bring in a potential star of the future to strengthen any leaks in their side, or bigger clubs can – on occasion – bring a player in who may otherwise be out of their reach on a temporary basis, treating fans to the spectacle of seeing such a big name wearing their own beloved shirt. It can help financially struggling sides add some depth, and also helps larger clubs get some experience for their younger talent before bleeding them gradually into their own first team. When used efficiently, the loan system quite literally offers a win-win for every single party involved. That certainly seems to be the case for Toulouse this season, who have loaned Man City starlet Manu Garcia for the 2018-19 campaign.
City paid €250,000 for Garcia’s services shortly after his 16th birthday, leaving behind Sporting de Gijón in his native Spain to learn his trade at one of Europe’s top clubs. To date he has only made a single competitive senior appearance for the Citizens – coming on as a late substitute for Sergio Aguero as City trounced Sunderland 4-1 at the Stadium of Light in a League Cup clash in September 2015. However, he is currently in his third loan spell away from the north west, with his first at Alaves having proven unsuccessful. He then played for Eredivise side NAC Breda and made 53 appearances, before moving to the Stadium Municipal de Toulouse for this season. It is still early doors in his tenure in Ligue 1 of course, but he has impressed so far with a fine first touch and a quickness to his feet which almost shouldn’t allow as close control as he possesses.
He provided the assist for Max Gradel to hit the opener as Toulouse won 2-1 at Guingamp, picking up a loose ball before playing a nice one-two and knocking it forward into the path of the on-running Gradel. It was a beautifully worked goal – straight from the training ground, to coin an old cliche – but Garcia executed his passing perfectly, showing a keenness to attention which could well prove a cutting edge for Le Téfécé as the season progresses. With Toulouse having narrowly avoided relegation last term, winning their play-off against Ajaccio 4-0 on aggregate, they have started very brightly indeed this time around. They find themselves in third place after the opening four games, with three wins and just the one single loss, a 4-0 defeat at Marseille on the opening day.
To show the strength of character to bounce back from what must have been a very early kick in the gut is just another sign that Toulouse could well be on for a much improved season. Yes, it is still early days – but the fact that most teams in the league sit below Toulouse and have not really come close to matching their level of play so far is great for the club. Paris Saint-Germain may once again be the pacesetters, but Toulouse are among the chasing pack. Whether they remain so close to the Champions League places throughout the campaign is debatable (only time will tell), but if the club are gunning for a higher finish this season then they are certainly going the right way about it. Garcia has been instrumental in his few appearances thus far, and should he continue that level of performance through large chunks of the campaign then everyone wins.
Toulouse will have a better season, and Garcia could travel back to the blue half of Manchester with a genuine claim to a place amongst Pep Guardiola’s first team. That team is a star studded one of course – making no headlines with that statement, with the likes of Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane to name but three – but Garcia clearly has the temperament on the pitch to dictate the direction of a game, and that is something that will benefit the French outfit this season and potentially City in future campaigns. This story would well prove a great example of the loan system being used for the benefit of the game as a whole.
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