How Phil Foden became an integral part of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City

PA Sport Staff
·3-min read

Phil Foden gave Manchester City the edge in their Champions League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night.

The 20-year-old capped a man-of-the-match display against the Germans with a last-gasp goal to give City a 2-1 first-leg lead.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how Foden has become a main man at City.

Getting the chance

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Having had to wait for regular game time at City, this has been the breakthrough season as Pep Guardiola has begun to trust him more and more. His selection against Dortmund ahead of Raheem Sterling says a lot and the 20-year-old has already managed more minutes this season than he did in the whole of the last campaign. He has been a key player in the Champions League, too, featuring in all nine of their matches so far as Guardiola is not frightened to use him in the big games. It helps that he is so versatile as the manager has used him all across the front three positions, in a number 10 role and even as a deep-lying midfielder. He has proved to be instinctive and not afraid to show for the ball, clearly showing that his talent is entirely natural.

What are the stats saying?

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Foden has warranted so much game time as he has delivered on the stats for City. He has 12 goals in all competitions, six in the Premier League, and has seven assists. He is showing himself to be comfortable on the ball, operating with a percentage pass-completion rate that is in the high 80s and 44 of those have been key passes – leading to a shot on goal – in the Premier League and Champions League.

Showing a maturity

Foden recovered from his ill-discipline with England to get back into Gareth Southgate's starting XI
Foden recovered from his ill-discipline with England to get back into Gareth Southgate’s starting XI (Catherine Ivill/PA)

The youngster has shown that he has a maturity about him. After all, he has been living with some pressure after Guardiola memorably said that Foden is the “most, most, most talented player” he has seen two years ago, but he has not let that expectation affect his performances. Also, the way that Foden responded to his misdemeanour on international duty with England earlier this season has shown great maturity. Foden and Three Lions team-mate Mason Greenwood broke coronavirus rules when away with their country in Iceland and were subsequently disciplined. But the City man took it on the chin and has since fought his way back into Gareth Southgate’s best XI.

Key recruiter?

Foden, left, was seen chatting to Haaland at the end of the game at the Etihad Stadium
Foden, left, was seen chatting to Haaland at the end of the game at the Etihad Stadium (Dave Thompson/AP)

Not only is Foden an integral part of City’s plans on the pitch, could he also have influence off it? There has been plenty of speculation about City’s possible pursuit of Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland, who was said to be auditioning for a possible summer move to the Etihad in the summer. And perhaps Foden was telling him about all the reasons why Manchester could be a good place to play his football as the pair were seen talking at the end of the game.