In the summer of 2019, following Manchester City’s monumental, record-breaking domestic quadruple, their iconic manager Pep Guardiola declared Phil Foden to be “the most talented player” he had ever seen.
Since delving into management and taking the helm of Barcelona back in 2008, it is not an understatement to say that Guardiola has developed and managed some of this generations finest footballing talents.
The likes of Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Arjen Robben are just a few of the highest pedigree that spring to mind. And of course, the six-time Balon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.
So when Guardiola made this astounding declaration of a young prospect with a meagre three league starts to his name, it is fair to say a few eyebrows will have been dubiously raised.
Foden has had no problem eradicating disbelief.
Over the past few years, the 20-year-old starlet has amassed an impressive tally of 40 goal contributions in just 98 appearances for City, winning six major honours in the process – as well as two Community Shield trophies.
Foden’s brilliance is not confined to his statistics, however remarkable they may be. Rather, the seamless, flowing dancing of his dribbling, and the pinpoint accuracy of his dynamic passing hold the weight when assessing the potential of the prodigy.
It is the way Foden elegantly plays the game that has lauded some of the highest praise in the early stages of a flourishing career; the England international is increasingly finding himself to be an instrumental component of a team of global superpowers.
The fact that Foden currently tops City’s goal-scoring chart for the season on eight strikes – level with Raheem Sterling – only further highlights his importance, and as the confidence thrives for the England international, his blossoming aptitude for creative flair will see his stock continue to rise dramatically.
The levels of maturity and composure that have been demonstrated by Foden remain nothing short of remarkable, and having left his teenage years behind only months ago, few players would be able to hit the heights achieved in such a short period of time.
The goal and assist coolly taken against Arsenal in this seasons Carabao Cup quarter final leaves a sterling impression in itself, but to repeat the feat against Chelsea in the Premier League only ten days later is nothing short of a revelation for an individual who continually attracts plaudits from players, pundits and supporters alike.
Foden has displayed his versatility under Guardiola on multiple occasions, being deployed centrally and across both offensive flanks throughout the last few seasons to devastating effect.
And whilst Foden has always been envisioned as a number ten – able to operate as a deep-lying playmaker when necessary – he has begun to operate out wide just as efficiently.
With a seemingly innate ability for goals and assists, it does not appear to bother Foden where he is placed on the pitch, as long as he can revel in the delight of playing.
With a world-class side brimming with such talent in abundance, opportunities have been scarce at times for the talented player, but with City’s departure of the legendary David Silva last summer, Foden has found himself edging ever closer to the pinnacle of English football at the heart of one of the most talented midfield’s ever to grace the soil of the coveted Premier League.
Indeed, less than half way through this turbulent campaign, heavily stricken by the Covid-19 global pandemic, Foden has made seven league starts and needs only two more to equal the nine starts he found himself restricted to for the entirety of the 2019/20 league season.
The term ‘generational’ is one that is tossed about all too frequently. It seems a regular occurrence that the latest hottest prospect has been unearthed and is dubbed the new Cristiano Ronaldo, ready to take the footballing world by storm.
It is something of a rarity that a young individual indeed lives up to the hype, surpassing the levels set out in front of them and excelling beyond the expectations set by the demanding and optimistic coaches.
In Manchester, Guardiola has meticulously constructed a lucrative team consisting of some of the planets finest footballers, and has gone on to achieve unprecedented success domestically, winning multiple trophies – including England’s solitary domestic quadruple – and breaking numerous records along the way.
Yet, the clubs brightest spark comes in the form of a boyhood supporter and a member of the clubs youth academy since 2009.
Guardiola has been exalting Phil Foden right from the moment he felt the slightest glimpse of first-team action, and as the goal contributions proliferate and the performances only continue to develop, the young star could yet forge a career that will leave a lasting legacy in the history of the great game.
featured image credit sky sports