Throughout the last few months there’s been plenty of debate at 90min over which players deserve to be selected for Our 21. Arguments were had, stats were thrown around, ‘he’s great in Football Manager’ was said an exorbitant number of times, but when it came to Phil Foden debate/arguments weren’t needed.
And that’s because, quite simply, Phil Foden is one of the best young players in the world right now.
So ahead of a European Championships in which Foden looks set to star, here’s everything you need to know about England’s boy wonder.
I mean, you know already…right?
Phil Foden has been ridiculously good.
He’s been so good that, by the end of the season, he’d jumped ahead of Raheem Sterling in the pecking order at Manchester City – starting both legs of the UEFA Champions League semi final ahead of Sterling despite being, you know, like 10 (20 at the time) years old.
As a go-to guy for Pep Guardiola, Foden has put up some mightily impressive numbers too, bagging 16 goals and 10 assists in all competitions, while averaging 88.3% pass completion which, for all you non-stat nerds, is pretty damn good for a creative midfielder who isn’t always ‘playing it safe’ in possession.
Oh and to top it all off, Manchester City – with Foden in the starting lineup – have probably been the best team in Europe over the last nine months, winning the Premier League, Carabao Cup and reaching their first ever Champions League final. Nice one.
Foden is one of those ‘can play anywhere in attack’ type players that Pep Guardiola loves. He can drop into midfield and play the David Silva role in a three, on either flank as your ‘cut inside and create’ wide player and he’s even played up top as a false nine at times too; and done so pretty damn well if you ask us.
His ‘preferred positions’ however, according to Foden himself, are the number 10 and number eight roles in midfield.
“Some games, I’ve played three different positions. I’ve played off the left, off the right, false nine, and in the middle. But from growing up, I’ve always played in one of the eight or 10 roles.
“So I’d like to see myself hopefully playing there one day, in the middle.”
I’m not exaggerating when I write that Foden has been compared to literally every good footballer in the history of mankind. Every. Single. One.
Yes, he’s even been compared to Diego Maradona – by Brian Deane, if you’re wondering.
The most apt comparison we’ve seen, however, is Andres Iniesta.
Like Iniesta, Foden has (nerdy football talk incoming) the ability to break the lines by both drifting past midfielders with consummate ease and finding his teammates with a pass when it’s on. He also plays in a similar role to Iniesta, usually drifting infield from the left-hand side of a front three.
Yes, comparing a 20-year-old to Iniesta seems hyperbolic – but in Foden’s case, it definitely isn’t.
“I’ve known him about five years, since he was a little boy and he’s showed his quality, no doubt about that.”
“He’s doing very well, he’s very talented.”
– Kevin De Bruyne
“Foden is very, very special. “
– Declan Rice
“We know what he’s capable of doing. He’s one of a few that are going to be very exciting over the next few years for England.”
– Gareth Southgate
“He has everything to become one of the best players. I have said many times in press conferences, but maybe not said it in front of him, Phil is the most, most, most talented player I have ever seen in my career as a manager.”
– Pep Guardiola
The fact that Foden is a 21-year-old who has a 79 starting-rating in FIFA 21 tells you he probably has some pretty damn good career mode potential.
Shock horror: he does.
The England starlet can hit a 91 rating in the game with the right training regime and a solid amount of game time early in his career. A must buy (if you have the budget).
When assessing how good a young player is, Football Manager is/was/always will be the first port of call.
It’ll come as no surprise that Foden is quite good in FM21. He actually has the coveted ‘wonderkid’ tag – which, in FM lingo, means he’s ‘very good right now and can go on to become one of the best players in the world’.
Here’s his stats at the start of the game:
Here’s his stats nine seasons into a save:
As a Nike athlete, Foden will be likely be wearing some Euro 2020 variants of the Phantom GTs he currently sports.
The answer? Pretty damn involved.
We’re not saying he’ll start every single game as England do have a stupid amount of good players who play the same positions as Foden, but we’d guess that he’ll start more than games than he doesn’t.
And why we think that is pretty simple: Foden’s biggest competition for a place on the left of England’s attack is Sterling, who he starts ahead of at Man City.
Expect Foden to be one of the favourites to win the young player of the tournament award this summer.