The rise of Manchester City over the past decade-plus is well documented, and the stars the club has managed to produce continues to astound those throughout the Premier League and beyond.
We’ve seen Sergio Aguero ascend to becoming one of the top strikers in England top flight history, while the evolutions of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and various Citizen superstars have found enormous success after moving to Manchester from other clubs.
City may very well be the best team in Europe at the moment, and one reason they’re going to consistently be in that mix for years to come is 20-year-old midfielder Phil Foden. The youngster certainly isn’t the only prospect in the works for City’s budding academy system, but he just may be the most tantalizing when he steps on the pitch.
Foden is Manchester. He has been since birth after being brought up in Stockport, a large suburb of Manchester that boasts a club in the fifth tier of English football with the same name.
The young left-footed attacker grew up a Man City supporter, and understandably so given the geography of his upbringing. Foden has been involved with the club since his youth days, making him one of the club’s long-tenured players to reach the senior level.
Foden’s relationship manager Pep Guardiola has developed quickly since the Spaniard first included the Englishman in the City squad for the first time in 2016. Guardiola has come to rely upon the youngster heavily in big-game situations despite boasting a number of world class wing options like Sterling, Ferran Torres and Bernardo Silva within the team.
With Foden’s growth at such a young age, he was given a Guiness World Record for being the youngest player to ever receive a Premier League winners’ medal after being awarded the hardware before turning 18.
In addition to Foden’s early success with City, the winger has made a name for himself on the international stage as well with England. Foden has already received six caps for the Three Lions, scoring two goals in the process.
He also played a significant role in England’s 2017 U-17 World Cup victory, where Foden scored a brace in the final against Spain. For those accomplishments, Foden was named the Golden Ball winner in India, which goes out to the tournament’s top player.
The left-footed Foden is very comparable to several of his teammates, and perhaps that’s simply because Man City have such a deliberate style about their play as a whole. When watching Foden play, he’s very much Riyad Mahrez meets Kevin De Bruyne.
He’s incredibly skilled on the ball, especially cutting in from right to left on his preferred foot. But what makes Foden so special is his ability to adapt and drift into dangerous positions across both sides of the pitch, then also find ways to collect the ball centrally and attack defenders.
This season, Foden has registered 11 goals and nine assists in all competitions, proving how dangerous he can be in several facets of his attacking game.
In February, the 20-year-old was stellar against Liverpool, tallying a goal and assist at Anfield, the former being a truly brilliant strike when Foden cut inside of Reds left back Andy Robertson and curling a powerful strike into the far post.
There’s certain players that feel like they’ll be lifers for specific clubs even in the modern game where massive transfers occur every year and money speaks volumes when it comes to luring players to new destinations.
That said, Foden’s ties to Manchester are significant and it seems as though he could be heading down a long and prestigious career path at the Etihad Stadium as the club begins to turn towards many of its younger faces in the next few years.
Foden is currently under contract with the Citizens until June 2024, but with the World Cup less than two years away, it’s highly likely there will be another extension thrown in from the Premier League side in the near future.
At the moment, Foden is ranked 10th in Transfermarkt’s valuation of all Premier League players, while having the Englishman sitting 25th among all players in the world. At this rate, you’ll be including Foden in the conversation with Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe and Ansu Fati in the very immediate future if his progression continues this smoothly.