The journey of Phil Foden is the ultimate footballing romance story. A boyhood Manchester City supporter living out his dream on the green grass at the Etihad Stadium with the very greatest players in Europe.
Pep Guardiola, a man who has observed and managed the likes of Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben, paid him the complement last summer in Yokohama. Foden had amassed just seven goals in 36 appearances across all competitions during his first two seasons yet Guardiola described him as “the most talented player” he had ever seen.
Foden has gone from strength to strength during the 2019/20 campaign, especially since the resumption of the Premier League. The 20-year-old has registered four goals and one assist in his last three games, including a brace in Man City’s 5-0 demolition of Burnley.
The England U21 international looked destined to reach the highest echelons of European football from the moment he surged onto the scene at the 2017 U17 World Cup in India. Foden scored twice as England condemned Spain to a 5-2 defeat in Kolkata and was presented with the Golden Ball for his performances at the tournament.
He was handed his first team debut on November 21, 2017, appearing for 15 minutes in a 1-0 win over Feyenoord in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Foden amassed 328 minutes across all competitions during his debut campaign and showed early promise with his ability to effortlessly breeze beyond opponents and launch attacks with his pinpoint passes.
Guardiola has shielded Foden from the spotlight by refusing to apply too much responsibility on his shoulders. The Spaniard has allowed him to develop his character and nurture his talent but it seems Foden is prepared to take his game to the next level.
David Silva will leave Man City at the end of the season after accumulating 75 goals and 137 assists in 428 appearances for the Citizens – winning 14 trophies, including four Premier League titles in the process.
Silva has been one of the most influential players in the club’s history and Foden has been earmarked to become his direct replacement. Man City have a plethora of talent in midfield but Foden has fitted seamlessly into the side and looks a natural replacement for the Spaniard.
Next season could be a monumental phase in Foden’s career when Guardiola decides to release him into the wild. He will be tasked with dealing with more responsibility and he’ll experience an unprecedented test of his character.