Phil Foden doesn’t play a lot of games for Manchester City, but when he does play, sparks fly. Freddie Pye has seen enough to argue he should be on the plane for EURO 2020.
A lot can change in such a short space of time in football. In the case of Manchester City starlet Phil Foden, his meteoric rise in the game has skyrocketed over the past 24 months.
After a Man of the Match performance in a major cup final at the home of English football, we should seriously be looking at the 19-year-old as a major candidate for Gareth Southgate’s midfield this summer.
I’m talking about playing every single game throughout the European Championships, I’m talking about immediate captaincy over Jordan Henderson, I’m talking about flying the actual plane with his comparatively second-rate national teammates...
...Okay, maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself after what was a very mature and impressive 90 minutes under Wembley’s arch on Sunday afternoon.
The ability to perform at right-wing in a high-profile fixture may just have boosted his ranking in Pep Guardiola’s squad dramatically
The midfielder, dubbed the ‘Stockport Iniesta’, has received some well-earned high praise from none other than Pep Guardiola in recent months, despite a lack of regular game time in the City side.
However, let’s be fair here: the lad is up against the likes of De Bruyne, Gündoğan, the Silvas, the list goes on. For a 19-year-old to be pushing the midfield mainstays to their very maximum across a season is a testament to his ability in itself, and people should certainly recognise the value of even training amongst the very best from a young age.
Sunday’s League Cup win saw Foden secure his EIGHTH major honour for his boyhood club and take his ‘minutes-of-playing-time-per-trophy’ ratio to a staggering 270 minutes!
Your response to that is probably: ‘but he only plays a few minutes per game’. Well, let me put this to you – Phil Foden has now been directly involved in nine goals in his last 10 starts for City this season (two goals & seven assists).
He’s firmly established himself as the true successor to David Silva, and continues to provide steady, faultless performances when called upon
Perhaps what was most remarkable about Phil Foden’s performance against Aston Villa on Sunday was his seamless transition into a position that was completely unfamiliar to him in the first-team set-up.
We saw 90 minutes of Foden on the right-wing – a position he made his own, and a position he maintained to the high standards we’ve seen produced by the likes of Mahrez and Silva this season.
This was also 90 minutes of high-quality football from a player who hadn’t registered a single minute since his substitute appearance against West Ham in mid-February, or an entire 90 minutes since the FA Cup victory over Fulham at the end of January.
The ability to perform at right-wing in a high-profile fixture may just have boosted his ranking in Pep Guardiola’s squad dramatically, given the competition for places in midfield, and a possible opening in the front-three next season with the seemingly imminent departure of Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich.
So why do I believe Phil Foden is perfect for England at this very moment? Between now and the competition itself, Gareth Southgate has the opportunity to try and test players in four friendly fixtures – the perfect opportunity to grant Foden a well-earned chance to impress.
We’ve recently seen the current England boss hand opportunities to Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Harry Winks and other players who I personally feel can be matched in terms of ability by Phil Foden.
That’s before you now take into consideration a fresh new hunger for a starting berth and the flexibility to play in either of the two attacking midfield positions in a three…and now the right-wing, too.
I will be fair and admit that the chances of Foden walking in and taking a right-wing spot from Jadon Sancho are very unlikely. But why wouldn’t you select a player who can provide you with multiple options should they be required?
Southgate has acquired a reputation for bringing young-blood into a very promising side in recent years, but this tendency to still call-upon the likes of Lingard and Delph certainly needs to be reviewed given the meteoric rise of Foden, and his unrivalled ability to carry a ball with such precision and close-care.
A proportion of City fans believed that this season would be a huge campaign for Foden in terms of his development, and it’s easy to see why. He’s firmly established himself as the true successor to David Silva, and continues to provide steady, faultless performances when called upon.
With the departure of El Mago next season – and the UEFA ban having an impact on summer recruitment – we could see a 25+ appearance season next campaign for the Stockport-born midfielder. At the age of just 19, that’s quite remarkable in a squad packed with world-class talent.