Last year, David Manasseh traveled to Hungary boarding a flight for the first time in two years.
The super agent, whose agency represents Jack Grealish and Gareth Bale, arrived in the country with the intention to sign an agreement with one of the best talents to have emerged from Hungary in the 21st century – Zalan Vancsa.
“Our scouts flagged him up as an emerging talent about a year ago, and we followed him ever since,” Manasseh said after signing an agreement with the 17-year-old.
Vancsa first broke to prominence in Hungary when he started training with MTK Budapest’s senior team at the age of 15 over two years ago.
He then caught the eye of international scouts in an U17 international fixture against Serbia at the start of 2021, scoring twice and registering an assist in a 4-3 victory.
Later that year, he made his debut for MTK Budapest’s senior team and became the youngest player in the 21st century to debut for the club towards the end of the 2020/21 season.
“He listened to a lot and was always motivated to get better and learn more things,” Vancsa’s former first-team head coach, Michael Boris, says.
Over the summer, MTK brought in Giovanni Costantino as head coach, an Italian who previously worked with the Hungarian national team.
He was quickly enamored by the then-16-year-old and brought him to MTK’s pre-season camp.
“He is a complete player, a complete winger. He thinks fast, and that’s very important. I am confident he can play in one of the top five leagues.”
Vancsa was given increased responsibility at first-team level under Costantino. He was even asked to captain the first team in one pre-season game and the young man did not shy away from the responsibility.
“I think when they are young you need to give confidence to the player,” Costantino explains.
Earlier this season, Vancsa played a regular role under Costantino and made history by becoming the youngest player to score a top-flight goal for MTK in 100 years. By doing so, he also became the sixth youngest player to score in Hungary’s top flight at 16 years and nine months old – just one month older than the legendary Ferenc Puskás.
A month later he followed that up with another goal in the Hungarian Cup and he has averaged 0.43 goals per 90 for the club’s first team this season.
While his numbers have been impressive at senior level, Vancsa has really caught the eye in the UEFA Youth League. He scored five goals and registered two assists in four appearances for MTK’s U19 side in the Champions Path.
Vancsa was involved in all of MTK’s goals in the competition and was unfortunate not to lead his side into the round of 32, ultimately losing out 3-1 to Genk over two games.
By then Manchester City scouts had been following his progress and marked him down as a player the club should consider signing. The likes of Leicester City, Aston Villa and Brighton also showed interest, as well as teams from abroad, most notably Bayern Munich, Sevilla and AC Milan.
City first made contact with Vancsa’s agent, Manasseh, back in December. The club made several presentations to Vancsa about how they envision his career path using the loan pathways to ultimately end up in the first team.
Vancsa and his representatives were impressed and just before the new year, the two parties agreed on personal terms.
Negotiations with MTK Budapest have stretched on for longer than expected with the Hungarian side keen to secure a record deal for the club.
It was expected that Vancsa would join the City Group’s Lommel SK in Belgium on loan as soon as he signed for the Premier League champions, but the 17-year-old is more likely to be loaned back to MTK Budapest for the remainder of the season due to possible registration issues.
At 17 years of age, many Hungarians regard him as a player whose potential can reach the heights of his compatriot, Dominik Szoboszlai.
Just like you, we can’t get enough of Manchester City! That’s why we’ve decided to supplement our expansive City coverage on the Manchester Evening News with a more fan-oriented platform catered specifically to City fans – City Is Ours.
Writers and presenters who share your passion for the blue side of Manchester will be producing written, visual and audio content to reflect the mood in the stands as well as the press box.
His father, Miklós, who has played over 300 games in Hungary’s top flight, has guided his career carefully, and he has been a key factor in instilling the right mentality in Vancsa from an early age.
“He has a very professional attitude and he doesn’t just put the work in training sessions, he practices beforehand. He is very good at motivating himself, I’ve never had to motivate him,” Miklós says.
A fearless player on the pitch with explosive speed on the ball and ruthlessness in front of goal, Vancsa possess the hallmarks of a winger who can go far in the game.
City have made it clear they see him as a player who would be capable of playing for the club’s first team in the future. Now, it is up to Vancsa to put the work in. An opportunity the 17-year-old will relish.
Are you excited by the prospect of City signing Zalan Vancsa ? Follow Ben Boksak on Twitter and get involved in the discussion by giving us your thoughts in the comments section below.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.