Manchester City’s Phil Foden has become one-to-watch for both City supporters and supporters of the England national side in the past twelve months due to the rapid rate of his development at both club and international level.
The Stockport-born wonderkid seems to have been bookmarked by Pep Guardiola as a genuine star for the future. Following years of extortionately priced transfers and an extensive turnover of players at the club, it’s rather refreshing for City supporters to see a local-born youngster on the verge of a first-team breakthrough.
Foden has lifted both the U17 World Cup and the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Award in the past year, but the 18-year-old will now be setting his sights on something which bigger: becoming a first-team regular for one of the most exciting clubs in world football.
Guardiola handed Foden a total of 10 appearances in City’s first-team last season: 5 in the Premier League, 3 in the Champions League and 2 in the Carabao Cup. For a 17-year-old attempting to break into a star-studded squad which is simply oozing with talent, that was a very positive indication for quite how highly he is regarded at the Etihad Stadium.
But a recent report from The Daily Mirror suggests that Foden’s development could step up another gear next season. According to the report, Oleksandr Zinchenko is destined to leave City this summer for either Wolverhampton Wanderers or Fulham but, perhaps most significantly, Foden hasn’t travelled to Finland for the U19 Euros so he can focus on his club career instead.
Although Zinchenko predominantly operated at left-back last season, the fact that City are offloading a natural attacking midfielder suggests Guardiola has filled his quota of creative midfielders, with Foden firmly a part of that. But it is Foden’s decision to train with the pre-season squad instead of travelling to Finaland to participate in the U19 Euros that is most revealing about Guardiola’s intentions.
If Guardiola did not have big plans for Foden next season then there’s no doubt he would have told him to emulate his World Cup success with the U19 England squad, so the fact he has travelled to the US would suggest he is being prepared for further exposure to the first-team next season.
With injuries and suspensions to take into account throughout an entire campaign in which City will hope to challenge for all four trophies, Foden could well be introduced on a semi-regular basis as the season develops.
He will have to be patient and wait for his opportunity, but when it comes around there’s no doubt he will take it with both hands and showcase his huge potential for the future.
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