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The name on every English football fans lips at the moment is Phil Foden. Dubbed as ‘Stockport’s Iniesta’, there is an unprecedented amount of talks and discussions involving this young talent.
After winning the under 17s World Cup this summer, he earned himself the Under 17s Golden Ball award, giving many Manchester City and England fans something to look forward to as this central midfielder develops through his career.
At club-level, Foden has already impressed the Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and earnt himself an appearance in the group stages of the champions league, making him the youngest ever player to play in the tournament, taking the record off previous Ballon d’Or winner, Michael Owen.
After continuously impressing the City management with his technical abilities and willingness to play, at the young age of 17 he has already made multiple appearances for the City first team, a challenge that players such as Yaya Toure are struggling to achieve, showing the trust the City staff have in his talent.
Foden’s recent success over the last 12 months hasn’t gone unnoticed, after his recent team victories with City and the England squad he recently received the Young Sports Personality of the Year 2017, a great way to top off his 2017. Any football fan cannot ignore the endless list of achievements the young man has received, this player is highly anticipated throughout different footballing circles all over the world.
Despite all the recent praise that Foden has received, his performance in the Carabao Cup for City has shown that he is not yet the finished article by any means.
Pep Guardiola gave Foden and Brahim Diaz towards the end of the calendar year, both players showed their technical prowess within the game, however their age was shown by how easily they could be dispossessed just through the physical element of the game.
However, this is nothing for him to worry about, at 17 he will expect to be pushed off the ball by men 10 years older than him, he will improve his physicality naturally over time.
Foden will be at a crossroads in his career and it is a very important period for the young man to take the right course of action for his ability. By finally breaking through into the first team at Manchester City, he has the guidance of the brilliant Guardiola to help him improve, however, some football enthusiasts would say a loan spell would be the best option.
Many great footballers over the years have put loan spells down to their success, as it gives them the regular football they need to keep building on their skills and prove themselves to their home club. The best example to be David Beckham’s spell at Preston North End, Beckham has said that this gave him the motivation and fight to get back into the Manchester United squad as a regular.
Some England fans may be worried that this hype will be too much too soon for Foden and he will follow in the footsteps of many failed ‘the next big things’ that England have produced over the years.
England have the habit of giving their young, homegrown talent too much responsibility too quickly and ending their career in tatters, the likes of The Walcott, Joe Cole and Jack Wilshere are all victims of this.
Walcott travelled to the World Cup with Sven Goran Eriksson’s England side at the age of 16, this gave a lot of England fans hope that he’d be the ‘saviour of English football’, but Walcott has only shown brief glimpses of his ability and has been somewhat underwhelming with his performances since his highly anticipated move to Arsenal.
So far, so good for Phil Foden, he’s showing promising signs that may encourage England fans to have faith in the future of the national team. Under the close supervision of Pep Guardiola and his staff, I’m sure Foden will become a future star for Manchester City and England.
However, the hype may prove to be too overwhelming for the young man, so it is essential, whatever club he is playing for, that the staff around him protect him and keep his feet on the ground, that last thing that England need are another ‘The Next Big Thing’ that fails to deliver.
Although with regular football and hard work there is no doubt this young talent will turn into the superstar the is promising to be.
Written by Thomas Clough
Follow Thomas on Twitter @CloughTom
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