Midfielder | Manchester City | England
Stockport Iniesta or Stockport Arteta? Born and bred in Greater Manchester and a product of the City youth academy, the willingness for Foden to succeed among the supporters is about as unprecedented as their club’s dominance during the centurions campaign.
Foden is the most extraordinarily gifted English wonderkid in a generation in the eyes of many, even with Jadon Sancho’s sublime form at Borussia Dortmund to consider. Donning the immaculate technique of a naturally gifted left-footer, Foden has drawn praise of the highest esteem in his short career thus far, with Barcelona legend, Andres Iniesta, the player he has been frequently compared with.
Even if the tongue-in-cheek comparisons are made with a wry smile and an obvious lack of seriousness, which epitomises the historic attitude of City’s fanbase, there exists an element of expectation that simply cannot be ignored.
Gone are the days in which City’s first-team relied on academy products to rise through the ranks and thrive in the first-team but, in the absence of necessity, sporting romanticism and a tribal instinct for the local lad to succeed have consumed supporters and swept across Manchester with infectious speed, snowballing with every personal milestone Foden has achieved.
He’s certainly more Inieista than Arteta, even if the excitement of his development is already spilling obscenely overboard.
2018 has been…
A classic case of slow and steady wins the race. Metaphorically speaking, Foden has been wrapped in cotton wool, with Guardiola seemingly reluctant to hand him his first Premier League start. Do you ever buy a new pair of shoes that are so sensationally pristine that you cannot bear the thought of wearing them outside the house? That’s what it feels like in regards to Foden’s lack of first-team opportunities at City.
The fans are craving more of Foden, but Guardiola has been incredibly selective, opting to introduce him as a substitute in the dying embers of a difficult game or using him from the start in domestic cup matches.
Cinematic moments of brilliance have largely eluded him this year, but those fans who travelled to Oxford to see the next Iniesta orchestrate proceedings with zest and swagger before crashing home his first senior strike for the club will remember that landmark moment through emotionally-fuelled lenses, as if their own son entered the world on that mesmerising evening.
In a squad as star-studded as City it’s difficult to envisage a route into the starting eleven, but patience is the name of the game; the club’s decision to offer him his first senior contract, which will keep him at the Etihad until 2024, is a major indicator of their commitment to his development.
Txiki Begiristain and Khaldoon al Mubarak provided a brief insight into the complexities of their business decisions in the Amazon All or Nothing documentary, and there’s no question that the decision to offer Foden a new deal was not made lightly.
Guardiola deserves the trust of supporters after what he has achieved at City. Those who slated him for not starting Foden against Lyon in the Champions League need to remember that they are not the individuals making the decisions which have got City to where they are.
They do not see Foden on a daily basis, they do not watch him train, they do not fully understand why Guardiola makes his decisions. But what they do know is that in the vast majority of cases, the Spaniard gets it right.
Foden is destined to become a star for both club and country, providing he remains grounded throughout his development, and Guardiola’s influence will only catalyse his improvement.