Pep Guardiola has sensationally claimed that he will not sell Phil Foden even for £450 million. The midfielder has a reputation for being one of the best talents in the Premier League. After breaking through the scene in the previous campaign, Foden has found first-team opportunities extremely limited in the 2019-20 campaign. It has led to speculation that the midfielder has eyes on a potential move as early as in January.
Foden made his debut for Manchester City in November 2017. He is regarded as one of the finest young players to come from the City academy in recent years. However, he has been stifled by the same kind of problem that every youngster at a big club faces – expensive signings. Speaking to Sky Sports, Guardiola admitted that Foden has not been given enough first-team opportunities. He said:
“We didn’t give Foden a new contract by accident. He is the only player that can’t be sold under any circumstances, the only one. Not even for 500m euros.
“Phil’s going nowhere. Phil is City. We won’t be signing anyone else for that position. When David Silva leaves, we know exactly who our new magician will be.”
City are a club with enough financial muscle to bring any player that they wish. In such a scenario, Guardiola is unlikely to turn to a 19-year-old who is well short of experience at the top level of the game. Guardiola is held in high regard for the way he brought up a large number of youngsters from the Barcelona academy, La Masia, at a time when there was little success for the team. Invariably, comparisons have come about with the approach taken by Guardiola to youngsters at Manchester City.
Foden has had just 101 minutes of action this season and 90 minutes of those came in the League Cup. The midfielder has had just 10 minutes in the Premier League. Surely, the 19-year-old will be regretting his decision to renew the contract only last season. Even though Guardiola claims that the contract has not been given out by City as an accident, Foden will question his sudden absence from the first-team picture.
The disappearance of Foden from the first-team picture is especially surprising considering that City are going through a slump in results. The team would welcome any kind of a lift and none better to provide the same than a home-grown talent. Yet, Guardiola’s latest statement is a measure of his confidence in the player. Given Guardiola’s history with young players, it is fair to give the benefit of doubt to the City manager. Foden is absent from the team merely due to stiff competition.
A few weeks ago, Guardiola claimed that the entry of Champions League would place a lot of demands on his squad and this would open up opportunities for fringe names like Foden. Even though the premier European competition has begun for another campaign, Foden remains short of first-team chances. Any youngster needs regular games in order to develop his game, which will only come with experience. Even if Foden continues to train with a list of world-class players like Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, it will not be a supplement for actual game experience.
The mere lack of any action on the pitch can plant a lot of ideas into his head as the January transfer window approaches.