Pep Guardiola has lauded the prodigious talent of Phil Foden claiming he’s ‘never seen a player with this potential.’
Despite having been on the fringes of first-team action in recent years, Foden has enjoyed something of a breakthrough campaign this season, producing some stellar performances in both the Premier League and the Champions League.
Guardiola’s faith in the 20-year-old is clearly beginning to grow, and though he conceded the best player he’s ever coached was (obviously) Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, he added he’s never seen a player with as much potential as Foden.
“Well, the best is Messi, first,” he told BT Sport. “Second, I didn’t meet Leo Messi at 17 years old like I met Phil [Foden], and that age, I’ve never seen a player with this potential. But you have to see it on the pitch and on the biggest stages.”
While Foden’s footballing talent has never been called into question, Guardiola was quick to praise his mentality on the pitch, claiming his ability to put previous mistakes at the back of his mind has been key to his development.
“He’s comfortable. He loves to play,” he said. “When this happens, you have to protect him. He’s a guy who makes mistakes but he’s forgotten [them]. The most important part for a football player is the head.
“He’s forgotten in one instance, one second. He thinks about the next one. The game against Borussia Dortmund at home, he missed three chances. Do you know who scored? It was him. I had the feeling, he’s 20 years old.”
Many people have been crying out for Foden to be afforded more game time and despite his impressive season he was still only named in 17 of City’s league starting XIs.
Guardiola hinted the youngster may be given more time on the pitch next season after proving he’s got the talent and the mindset to cope with the big occasions.
“Now Phil is demanding things from the manager,” he added. “Before, he’d play 25 minutes, and he’d be happy. Half-time, happy. Play in the Carabao Cup, he’s happy.
“Now, next season, if I don’t play him in the Champions League you’ll see what happens. He proved he can do it.”