It has been a remarkable last one year for Phil Foden. The young midfielder has been one of the biggest breakout stars not just in the English game but in world football as a whole. Manager Pep Guardiola has gradually eased him into Manchester City’s senior team since making the breakthrough in 2017. That has resulted in steady growth in the last year as the 20-year-old has made giants strides forward at the highest level.
Three Man of the Match awards in his last eight appearances for City speak to his growing influence in the team. He is also becoming an important player for the English national team. In only his second start for the Three Lions back in November, he scored twice and provided one assist to help his country secure a comfortable 4-0 UEFA Nations League win against Iceland. That performance also earned him a Man of the Match award.
Yet, he is 20 and just getting started.
It is understandable then that former Manchester City forward Shaun Goater will consider him a future candidate for the Ballon d’Or award. At face value that may look like mere hype. But that is for those who have not watched the former U17 World Cup winner play. The former Blues striker has certainly observed the 20-year-old closely and sees a bright future for him.
“The world is at Phil Foden’s feet,” Goater told the EFL ahead of his old club’s League Cup clash against Manchester United on Wednesday.
“I think he can really go all the way. I can see him standing on the podium and being on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or.
“I know that’s a huge thing to say about someone still so young, but he has this quality about him, and what I like about him is the energy he brings, the constant goal threat he brings - whether that’s scoring or assisting - and as a midfielder, these are great qualities.
“He can play anywhere and he will play anywhere. I can really see his future as being one of the best in the world, he’s phenomenal for someone so young and I genuinely think in four or five years he could challenge for the Ballon d’Or, he’s got that much potential.”
Goater is definitely not alone in his estimation of Foden’s potential. Just last month, Guardiola spoke glowingly about the player.
Asked how many goals he is capable of scoring, he said: “A lot. The signs are good. In front of the keeper he has this composure. He has something that the other ones don’t have.
“He just has to keep this incredible strength he has and to improve. A player of 28, 29, 30 years old also has margin to improve, so imagine a guy of 20 years old like Phil. The important thing is his desire and commitment and he is a joy to watch in the training sessions and in the games he will improve.”
Guardiola added: “He is one of the more incredible players I have seen at that age, he is so good. I was in Barcelona, I was in Bayern Munich and yes there were more experienced players, but I saw in the academy and there were incredible players at that age.
“They had long careers and they had the mentality that Phil has and that’s the most important thing.”
Foden has so far scored 21 goals in his first 93 outings for City, with his latest effort coming in a 3-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. He grabbed a goal and an assist in two of his last three games for City. the fact that those came against Arsenal and Chelsea also show how much of a big-game player he can be. That is one of the hallmarks of a great player.
For now, it is fingers crossed as we watch the unfolding of one of the biggest talents of the next era. It is also good to know he is a Cityzen through and through.