There’s so much to talk about Manchester City right now that it’s easy to leave some important points behind. The lack of enough playing time for the talented Phil Foden is a good example of that.
The youngster has been excellent in most of the games he’s been on the pitch. The problem is that the depth of City’s squad made it hard for Pep Guardiola to find enough minutes for the academy graduate.
In the wake of City’s UEFA ban, the brief return of Laporte and the famous win against Real Madrid, the Foden conversation was in the background. The young forward brought it right back up with his excellent performance against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup final.
Foden was among the best players on Wembley and outshined another English talent, Jack Grealish. The Aston Villa star is tipped for a bright future and allegedly costs a little fortune.
I would argue that the same can be said about Foden and Pep Guardiola must find more minutes for the youngster. Here is why.
Young Athletes Need to Play to Develop
Let’s start with the most obvious argument. No matter how talented a player is, he needs to be on the pitch with the first team to develop. Training sessions, reserves and youth games are not enough.
The biggest jump in football is to go from a rising youngster to an established pro on the highest level. A good example of that is a guy I wrote about recently.
Serge Gnabry required a lot of time to reach the level he’s currently showing with Bayern Munich. He was deemed not good enough for West Brom at some point, didn’t play enough for Arsenal and wanted a year with Hoffenheim on loan before going to the German champions.
It was a roller coaster that ended as soon as Gnabry had enough minutes under his belt. That’s what Foden needs right now.
Homegrown Players Have Added Value
If you look at most of the great English teams of the past decade or so, you will find local players that gave their all. The current Liverpool squad has guys like Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, and James Milner.
Manchester United always had British talents at their disposal and even Wenger’s Arsenal heavily relied on local players for most of its successful campaigns. Even Manchester City had a guy like Joe Hart during the first title-winning seasons.
Integrating local players in the core of your team works well because it’s much harder for the top teams from other countries to lure them away from the English Premier League.
On top of that, Phil Foden is a local lad that genuinely loves the club. That’s something you can’t buy with money.
Foden Is a Natural Successor for David Silva
The Spanish magician David Silva has been instrumental for Manchester City ever since joining the club back in 2010. He was the cornerstone of the club’s success before and after Pep Guardiola.
However, Silva is now 34 and his influence has been decreasing. The only natural path for him is to either retire in the near future or join a smaller club.
Manchester City will need a successor and Foden is a natural fit for the role. Sure, the likes of De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva will carry some of the burden and they are both world-class players. And yet, none of them is so naturally suitable for the same position as Foden is.
Failing to develop Phil Foden’s talent or losing him would be a monumental mistake on Manchester City’s part. The youngster is only 19 and can be a star for the club in the next 15 years.
Pep Guardiola must find more minutes for Foden or he risks leaving a stain on his legacy as the club’s greatest manager.