Could Phil Foden break into the Manchester City team this season?
When it comes to youth players at big clubs they are usually valued extremely preciously. Manchester City has created a quality youth system in recent times, but Eastlands hasn't really become a breeding ground for young talents. One teenager aiming to change that mantra is Stockport-born Phil Foden.
Foden joined City's youth system in 2007, before the midfielder signed a professional contract in 2017. Now, aged, 18, he is seeking a step up and his next mission is to appear more in Pep Guardiola's main team. Foden's reputation has been growing internationally, playing with England at four separate youth levels he even won the FIFA U17 World Cup Golden Ball. This was the time when England won the World Cup back in 2017 to win their first U17 title. Now, it's time to earn regular football on the domestic scene.
Only three youth players appeared for City during the 2017/18 campaign. Foden being one and Lukas Nmecha being another. Both players have been Citizens for almost a decade now. Their familiarity with the club can only be viewed as a positive. Ibrahim Diaz is the final youth player to appear last season, all of whom will be hoping to make their impact over the next twelve months.
City fans have seen the potential in Foden and the teen is more than eager to step up his game. The 5'7 midfielder made his professional debut last November in a Champions League fixture; coming on for Yaya Toure. Just a few weeks later, he became the youngest Englishman to start a Champions League game. Just ten days later, a Premier League debut would follow. Although only appearing for the last 10 minutes against Tottenham Hotspur, he knew his career was just starting. With City winning the Premier League title, Foden became the youngest player ever to receive a Premier League winner's medal.
Although left-footed, the millennial starlet can also use his right foot almost just as well. He is versatile, able to play a central-midfield role as well as attacking-midfield and right-wing. His main strengths include close dribbling and moving into advanced positions with the ball. He's not a bad finisher either, which has been shown in games played at both club and international level. Being such a small player means he can weave in and out of defences thanks to the low centre-of-gravity, built in the Lionel Messi role, in that sense.
Only given 45 minutes playing time last season, Foden did manage an assist in City's 5-1 win over Leicester City back in February. He set up Sergio Aguero during the 90th minute. His only contribution professionally from his time during last season, but it would have done his confidence the world of good.
Starting in the Community Shield, while not looking out of place was great for the young man. He looked threatening, once again assisting Aguero. He has to build upon that, don't forget, this game is regarded as a friendly. It's much more difficult to execute like that in a Premier League fixture.
The potential is definitely there. Pep Guardiola is the only person who can decide Foden's fate as a Man City player. If he isn't being used regularly would a loan move be better for him? Or would it just be beneficial to learn as a progressive team member? He is still only 18 and has a lot to learn. But if the Sky Blues boss doesn't use him much this season many other clubs may come sniffing around in order to buy him. The problem would be that Foden is supposedly highly rated. So a transfer fee would have to be quite hefty.
All in all, we should be seeing more of Phil Foden over the next few months at least. Even if he comes on during the second half in certain games. He needs minutes but at a progressive pace. Rushing him into big matches could be a mistake but the quality that surrounds him should be noted as a comfort zone. It would be great to see such a talent earn more playing time. Who knows, he could be England's next superstar at international level...