SERGIO GOMEZ arrived at Manchester City with his old boss tipping him to become the best left-back in the world.
Yet if it had not been for a flash of inspiration little more than 18 months ago, the kid already being tagged as the new Jordi Alba may still be earning a living as a right-winger.
Gomez, 21, was in his second season on loan at Huesca when Jose Rojo Martin took over LaLiga’s basement boys.
One of the first moves Martin — or Pacheta as he is known in Spain — made was to switch him from an attacking role on the right flank to a defensive one on the left.
It was a stroke of managerial genius that nearly inspired a miracle escape for Huesca… and set the player on a path which was to take him to the Etihad.
Gomez was so outstanding in the second half of the campaign, his side only went down on the final day — when the width of a post denied him a winning goal that would have saved them.
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Huesca’s relegation meant they could not make his loan move a permanent deal.
Instead he joined Anderlecht, was their player of the season and saw City pay £11million to sign him from the Belgian club.
Pacheta, now Valladolid manager, revealed: “When I took over, Huesca had only 11 points after 17 games and were bottom of the league.
“Sergio was playing as a right-winger, cutting inside, but we had a meeting and I told him I thought he would be perfect at left-back.
“I remember being in my office and telling him he’d be a big success there and he accepted the challenge straightaway.
“In modern football so many players will question a coach’s decision if he is asked to play a totally different position and that can cause problems.
“But Sergio was just different. From the day I opened the door to the dressing room I found him a special boy and very receptive to everything you told him.
“I’m not saying everything changed because of my decision but the way he adapted was perfect. He completely nailed it from that day.
“We turned things round and needed to beat Valencia in the last game to survive. We drew 0-0 and Sergio hit the post with a long shot, so we were so unlucky.
“If we had stayed up, Huesca had a clause that we could buy him from Dortmund. Instead, he moved to Anderlecht.”
Gomez had ended up at Huesca after failing to crack it as a Barcelona youth and then with Borussia Dortmund.
And while his career eventually rocketed in LaLiga to such an extent he was tipped to replace the legendary Alba in the Spain side, he was also earning another tag.
Pacheta added: “He is an excellent crosser, it’s like he has a velvet glove on his left foot — and he has a super powerful shot from long distance.
“The current top left-backs are athletes who can run really well but there aren’t excellent crossers who can also penetrate inside the box. But people will see that with Gomez.
“Manchester City have finally signed a typical No 9 in Erling Haaland but he needs some good service — and will get even more goals from Sergio’s crosses.”
Gomez made his City debut in the recent friendly at Barcelona and boss Pep Guardiola has been easing him into the Premier League from the bench.
Yet Pacheta has no doubt he will be a massive hit and added: “I’m absolutely delighted for him and I know he is going to excel at City.
“Sergio just belongs to the elite and could become the best left-back in football.”