The velocity of his ascendancy from overly keen youngster to firmly established senior star at one of the biggest clubs in world football has caught most off guard.
Just as the jarring, myopic arguments surrounding whether he should be sent out on loan to acquire greatest first-team experience appeared to fade into the background, suddenly Foden is not only a first-team regular at treble-chasing City but, with the obvious exception of Kevin De Bruyne, the club’s most potent and talented forward player.
A first-class display in City’s 4-1 drubbing of Liverpool at Anfield back in February represented the coming-of-age watershed moment to signify the birth of a genuine superstar.
That display arrived one full season after he earned the man-of-the-match award in City’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa in the final of the EFL Cup and he was once again in jovial mood at the home of English football on Sunday, tip-toeing around the pitch with stunning grace, barely brushing the floor as he took Spurs defenders with him on a journey towards eternal stardom.
We’re in the process of watching something truly generational.
Foden has arrived on the global stage and it’s impossible not to wax lyrical about his ability.
Every passing week prompts a fresh set of effusive praise from across the media, with players, pundits and managers left utterly besotted by his outrageous repertoire of technical, physical and mental qualities.
With that in mind, GIVEMESPORT have compiled a list of eleven of the best quotes on Foden since he burst onto the scene as a World Cup winner with the England U17s in 2017, a tournament in which he won the Golden Ball award.
Let’s take a look at what’s been said by managers, pundits and fellow players:
1. Pep Guardiola, Manchester City manager
Back in 2019, Pep Guardiola caused a stir by labelling Foden as the most talented player he has seen in his career, overlooking Lionel Messi and a raft of other world-class talents in the process.
“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.
“His only problem is sometimes his manager doesn’t put him in the starting XI. He deserves all the minutes, but as well you know in which team he’s playing, there are competitive players. It’s not easy. But he is open minded, he works incredibly hard [in] every training session and he knows how I perceive him.
“He knows completely that I am here to help him as much as possible to become what he is and I am pretty sure both of us will get there.
2. Henry Winter, Chief Football Writer at The Times
Following Foden’s magisterial display in the EFL Cup final win over Villa, Henry Winter lavished praise on the then teenager and claimed he was ready for Euro 2020, which was later delayed due to the pandemic.
3. Aidy Boothroyd, England U21 manager
Foden made his debut for England’s U21s in October 2018, and his ability to retain possession particularly impressed former manager Aidy Boothroyd.
“Phil is a real team player,” he said. “When he gets the ball in difficult positions, he wriggles out of it like a little eel.
“Considering he hasn’t played a game with this group of players, I thought he took to it really well.”
4. Gareth Southgate, England national team manager
No tale of prodigious English talent is complete without a tabloid-worthy misdemeanour to raise questions about their mentality.
Foden made a big mistake by breaching Covid protocols during England’s trip to Iceland in September 2020, but he bounced back two months later with a brace during a 4-0 win over the same side at Wembley.
In the aftermath of proceedings, a forgiving Gareth Southgate tipped the Stockport-born star to enjoy a bright future with the international team.
“I’m really pleased for him and his family. To have the experience he had in September was really tough for a youngster. We all make mistakes. It was a difficult situation to be in. You’re walking back through the door and looking at everyone’s faces and you know the last time you saw them it was complicated.
It took him a few days I think to settle into the camp and start to smile a bit more and relax a bit more. 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.”
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5. Barney Ronay, Chief Sports Writer for The Guardian
Barney Ronay, forever the wordsmith, beautifully described his otherworldly dribbling ability scoring and assisting in City’s 4-1 win at Anfield, leading with the headline “Phil Foden bewitches Liverpool: this is the best young player in England.”
“Foden has always been an excellent dribbler. Dribbling is probably the wrong word. He glides and feints. When he beats his man it is an expression of greater balance and superior touch, a man who is simply better friends with the ball, the angles, gravity.
6. Adrian Durham, talkSPORT host
After a captivating display against Aston Villa in the Premier League which drew praise from far and wide, Adrian Durham suggested that Foden is the best young English player since Bobby Moore.
“There have been some fantastic players but I go back to the ’66 World Cup and Bobby Moore,” talkSPORT’s Adrian Durham said. “I don’t think there was a flaw in his game.
“I think Phil Foden is the best since then and I never thought I’d say this. I’d have thought if someone said this to me it was hype but I genuinely believe it, Phil Foden’s that good.”
7. Micah Richards, Sky Sports pundit and former City star
Having also emerged through City’s academy ranks during his playing career, it’s little surprise that Micah Richards has been raving about Foden.
Following his outing against Spurs on Sunday, Richards lauded the youngster’s decision-making and ability to impact the game for the full 90 minutes.
“This player (Foden) is sublime. There is Grealish that I have talked up, who I love. There is Mount, who I love as well’, Richards told Sky Sports after City’s 1-0 victory.
“But this guy here, he plays like he is playing in the playground with his friends but what he has improved on, is becoming a key player. It isn’t flashes of brilliance, he is making a difference. Look at the way he just swivels.
“He is so comfortable on the ball, he always seems to play the right pass at the right time.”
8. Jamie O’Hara, talkSPORT pundit and ex Premier League midfielder
David Silva’s departure from the Etihad Stadium was always bookmarked as the point in which Foden’s career would take off.
Rather than replacing Silva, though, Foden has brought a markedly more dynamic left-footed presence to City’s attack while also providing the creativity that Silva left behind.
And with that comparison already a central part of the narrative regarding Foden’s future in the game, Jamie O’Hara concluded that he will go on to surpass Silva in the coming years and also labelled him better than Paul Gascoigne.
“I know people always compare him to Paul Gascoigne, but I look at Foden and think he’s better than Gascoigne. He offers so much to the team. The way he carries the ball and runs through the pitch – and that’s what I loved about Gazza. He’s the go-to-guy. He’s the man when they need someone to step up in big moments then it’s Phil Foden. He just produces on the big stages and he’s done it all season.”
“We talk about David Silva, a Man City legend in terms of what he’s done, but he went to the club when he was established as a finished article. For me, Phil Foden is going to be way better than Silva at Man City.
“He’s doing it already against Real Madrid and he’s still only a kid.”
9. Jamie Redknapp, Sky Sports pundit and former Spurs and Liverpool midfielder
Ahead of England’s delayed Euro 2020 campaign this summer, Jamie Redknpp weighed in on the selection debate and claimed that Foden has to be in Southgate’s starting XI.
‘He never looks at the ball. The best players always know where the ball is. He plays with his chest out and knows the picture before it has happened.
‘Every day training at that club with those players, must be like a masterclass. He is great for the game this young man.
‘A few weeks ago, I thought maybe he won’t start but he could finish games (for Eng). But right now in that form, he has got to start him.’
10. Fernandinho, Manchester City veteran and Foden’s teammate
There is no doubting Foden’s ability, and it seems that he has both the maturity and level-headedness required to continue on this exponential journey towards the summit of world football.
And based on what City captain and club stalwart Fernandinho has had to say about him, there’s every reason to believe his attitude is spot on.
“I’ve known him about five years, since he was a little boy and he’s showed his quality, no doubt about that,” Fernandinho said.
“He’s matured and is taking the actions better, again he scored today and he’s been awesome.
“I’m so pleased and happy for him because he’s a nice boy and deserves the best.”
11. Lionel Messi, Barcelona legend and arguably the greatest footballer of all time
If those ten quotes weren’t already enough, then how about this for the icing on the cake.
The Argentine named his 15 “youth on the rise” players and included Foden in his selection alongisde another four English players.
“He will do amazing things in the game. He has huge talent.”