contrasting the most exciting wonderkids from Swansea City and Cardiff City

Over the years, Welsh football has benefited significantly from the talent that has been distributed through Swansea City and Cardiff City. Chris Gunter, James Collins, and current football sensation Aaron Ramsey are just few players who came up through the Bluebirds’ renowned development program to become pillars of the Welsh national team and excel in the game. Swanseas’ upward trajectory at the beginning of the 2010s, however, allowed for more lucrative output, and they enjoyed time acting as the Red Dragons’ primary supplier by developing the defensive trio of Ben Davies, Joe Rodon, and Conor Roberts. They’ll both be striving for pride and bragging rights from being the next big cab off the ranks now as the two enduring forces of Welsh football.

In a welcomed contrast to years gone by, Cardiff came out on top in the latest edition of the fiercely-contested South Wales Derby only two weeks ago – but will they come out on top here?

Who is Cardiff City’s biggest wonderkid?

No one would have disputed Rubin Colwill’s claim to this praise year ago. Colwill, product of the club’s youth and lifelong fan, is electrifying on his day. This season, he has rekindled his star in fits and starts with some electrifying performances in the EFL Cup, giving fans optimism that his well-documented injury woes are now behind him. But in league football, he hasn’t often had the chance to demonstrate that. Ollie Tanner, on the other hand, has. After joining from the lowly non-league team Lewes FC, Tanner himself had rough 2022–23 season and had his job cut out for him.

He was unable to force his way into the team at Cardiff or the disastrous midseason loan stint that followed at York City, but ever since Erol Bulut took over, he has been a man possessed.

The winger, who nearly signed with Tottenham Hotspur before relocating to Cardiff, has emerged as one of the key factors in Cardiff’s incredible start to the season. His directness, skill, speed, and unwavering desire to challenge his counterpart have helped Cardiff up their attacking ante and rhythm in each and every game he’s played.

His apex, though, was undoubtedly in the aforementioned South Wales Derby showdown.

Introduced from the bench with merely 20 minutes to play, Tanner took the ball under control delightfully from Jamilu Collins’ diagonal switch with his very first touch before cutting inside – now a hallmark of his game – and curling a sweetly-struck strike into the far corner to send the Cardiff City Stadium into sheer delirium.

Already a hero, Tanner then proceeded to win the penalty that Ramsey promptly converted to put proceedings before doubt four minutes from time.

The 21-year-old has only progressed since then, and despite his youth and the abundance of attacking alternatives Cardiff now has at their disposal, he is destined to be an important member of Erol Bulut’s team.

But let’s now compare and contrast Swansea’s brightest emerging star.

A modern-day central defender, Wood combines a stellar reading of the game and ability to anticipate danger with ball-playing qualities that were naturally nurtured under the tuition of Russell Martin, while he’s also defensively assured and strong in the tackle.

Indeed, Martin himself was known to be eager to reunite with Wood on the south coast this summer, but Southampton found themselves unable to meet Swansea’s valuation.

And it was even reported by Fabrizio Romano that top-flight heavyweights and, notably, North London rivals Arsenal and Spurs had been looking to engineer a summer swoop, although it never came to fruition.

The England U21 international’s skills are still on display, but do they compare to Tanner’s?

This would have been obvious even a few months ago.

Now, though, the choice is a little trickier, and while many will assert vehemently that Wood has been producing at this level for a longer length of time, Tanner deserves credit for the present moment.The most important factor is recent performance, and it should not be forgotten that he tore Wood and his Swansea colleagues apart. He is already developing into a lethal and game-changing Championship wide winger and has inborn abilities that cannot be taught.

That makes it reasonable to conclude that he also has more potential.

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