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Will Phil Foden play in a central position next season for Manchester City?


Since breaking into Manchester City’s first team back in 2017, Phil Foden has become one of the brightest English stars in world football. Now at the age of 23, with his boyhood club, he has won a Champions League, five Premier League’s and two FA Cups.

Whilst working under manager Pep Guardiola the ‘Stockport Iniesta’ has been used in multiple positions. This includes playing on both flanks and on occasions through the middle. After being prominently used as a winger last season, could we see Foden play in a central position next season?

When he originally came through to first-team football at the age of 17, Foden was used as a central midfielder, usually taking up the left position of a midfield three. This is the position he was playing when he scored his first Premier League goal against Spurs back in April 2019.

After the return of football from Covid-19 in 2020 we saw the two-time Premier League ‘Young Player of the Season’ move into a wider area. Now after three full seasons playing as a winger, the results have been successful with nine goals scored in each of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons and 11 goals in 2022-23, despite injuries.

At the back end of the last campaign, Foden found it more difficult to get minutes. This was due to the new system that City adopted with John Stones playing both as a central defender and a midfielder.

It was also due to the brilliant turn in form of Jack Grealish who took Foden’s usual spot on the left-hand side. Then there was no place for him on the right side as Bernardo Silva was supplying consistently outstanding performances.

However, in the last game of the season in the Champions League Final triumph against Inter Milan, Foden replaced Kevin De Bruyne in the 36th minute of the match. This resulted in him playing in a more central position, and in the 78th minute, he showcased his strength in that position when he sublimely spun Inter defender Federico Dimarco and then drove into the box where his shot was saved.

He certainly has the traits to play in the middle of the park. The fact he is left-footed and has such great close control is reminiscent of David Silva to some keen City observers. The Spanish maestro’s ability to play on the half turn and look for defence-splitting passes is something that Foden grew up watching at the Etihad and is something that the English international now does effectively himself.

Even teammate De Bruyne has stated how Foden can and will end up playing in a central position.

De Bruyne commented, ‘He can play a lot of different positions but I think eventually he will end up playing centrally’. This was backed up by Guardiola, who added, ‘Absolutely, I agree with Kevin.’

With the loss of club captain Ilkay Gundogan in the midfield, it opens the door for Foden to become the central midfielder City need. The fact that he has previously played the position, and has all the traits needed, could see a new Foden starring in a central role for the European champions next season.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.


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