Pep Guardiola once stated Phil Foden is the most talented player that he has ever seen. Actually, Guardiola’s quote was something more like Foden is the “most, most, most talented player” he has seen.
So, with Foden given such high praise from the man that masterminded Barcelona’s success in the late noughties and helped Lionel Messi become a star, why isn’t the Manchester City youngster playing more minutes in the Premier League?
Perhaps the answer can be found in Foden’s age. At just 19-years old, Guardiola is likely to be worried that the midfielder will struggle in high-pressure Premier League games. That does seem a bit strange considering Manchester City folded under pressure against Liverpool at Anfield regardless of what your thoughts are about the handball that wasn’t given early in the match.
Foden has appeared in his four league matches for the Cityzens. It isn’t a bad figure until you delve deeper and realise he has played just 30 total Premier League minutes. That is an average of 7.5 minutes per game.
For a player that is the most talented Guardiola has seen, then why isn’t he getting more game time?
Foden has been on the Manchester City bench in seven of the other eight league matches. He has appeared in two Champions League matches and two Carabao Cup games.
The midfielder scored a goal and tallied an assist in the Champions League in games against Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta. But twice he has been left out of the European squad and a mere 83 minutes have been tallied across the two matches Foden has appeared in.
At least Foden has played a full 90 minutes in Manchester City’s two Carabao Cup matches and he will be assured of playing in the team’s next fixture in the tournament. At least we assume.
Foden has no doubt got the ability to play at a high level, yet he isn’t getting match time to develop. Former Manchester City youth team player Jadon Sancho is the same age as Foden. He has seen his career take off since leaving for Borussia Dortmund in 2017.
Sancho’s stock is so high right now that both Liverpool and Manchester United are linked to transfers for him in excess of £100 million. The creative winger has three goals and six assists in nine Bundesliga games for Borussia Dortmund and is a full-fledged England international.
Even with Manchester City’s midfield of David Silva, Rodri, and Ilkay Gundogan not looking especially impressive against Liverpool — Silva is ageing and Gundogan flatters to deceive — Foden is not getting minutes.
Transfermarkt values Foden at £27m currently. A January move away from the Etihad Stadium may be just what the midfielder needs to get his career on track. The Cityzens could teste the transfer market waters in January and purchase a top midfielder to help reel in Liverpool or win the Champions League. If they do, Foden shouldn’t hesitate to leave the club either temporarily or permanently. Even then, he shouldn’t wait to leave.
Despite being the best talent Guardiol has seen, it is hard for the rest of us to truly see it if he doesn’t get to play.