Phil Foden has made remarkable progress at Manchester City in the last couple of years. The young midfielder has gone from being a promising talent (one for the future) to becoming a key player in the first team.
Sure, the talent was always there. But breaking into one of the best teams in Europe and becoming a key member of the squad at age 21 is no mean feat.
That’s especially the case when playing for one of the most demanding managers in the game. Foden has not only passed the test, he has excelled under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage.
The Stockport-born star is blazing the trail for other young talents in the process. One of such is Cole Palmer.
It wasn’t long ago news broke that the young Englishman has been handed a new contract by City. Signing a new long-term deal at a time when several young players coming through the ranks are being let go says a lot about how the club sees the player.
Palmer has made his case on the pitch, establishing himself as one of the best emerging talents from the City Academy. The 19-year-old began training regularly with the City first team last year.
Pep Guardiola must have been impressed with what he saw as that led directly to a full senior team debut. He was then given a chance to feature in the Champions League.
Playing for Premier League 2 last term, he scored 13 goals as City lifted the trophy. He was one of the top scorers in the division. Ranked second in the scoring charts, only teammate Liam Delap (who netted 24) scored more. Palmer’s quality as a midfielder shone throughout the campaign.
His ability to play multiple positions only adds to his appeal. That makes him an ideal candidate to fit into Guardiola’s system. As a manager that prioritizes a player’s intellect, the Catalan will find Palmer a delight to work with. That's if what one club official who said ‘Cole’s brain is the best thing about him’ is anything to go by.
His display in last Tuesday’s pre-season friendly against Preston North End also caught the eye. The 19-year-old was influential in the game and won the free kick that Mahrez blasted in to break the deadlock.
By doing so, the young player is declaring himself ready for the step up. Much like Foden before him, the manager could now consider him a viable option in the team.
If for any reason Manchester City fail to sign Jack Grealish this summer, that will most likely be the case. And from what he has shown on the pitch so far, Palmer will be ready for the new responsibility.
Guardiola has been preparing him for that step up for sometime now and it may be time to fast-track the process.
Whatever happens in the end, one thing remains clear; if there’s one player that is ready to follow Phil Foden’s footsteps into the senior team right now or in the nearest future, it’s Cole Palmer.