As I write this, I am entering the third week of lockdown in the UK brought on by the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Turmoil has hit Premier League side Manchester City after numerous alleged breaches of UEFA’s financial fair play rules were recently uncovered.
If Manchester City are found guilty of these allegations they will suffer a two-year ban from the UEFA Champions League and potentially be stripped of their league titles, tarnishing the club’s history and greatest period of success.
These ramifications could impair the club from management all the way down to its superstar squad. Although Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has insisted he will remain with the club if turmoil ensues, will the superstar players within the world’s most expensive squad follow suit?
Will a 29-year-old Kevin de Bruyne want to wait until he is 31 before he has another shot at UEFA Champions League glory? Will the highly sought-after Raheem Sterling, whose trajectory is rapidly on the rise, want to stay put while uncertainty plagues the club? Especially while the likes of Real Madrid will aim to reinvent him by fighting for his signature and unlocking his potential.
With so much uncertainty clouding the Sky Blues’ future, there comes the possibility of having to let go its star players, therefore granting the opportunity for some of City’s highly touted youngsters to gain the experience they have been craving.
Instantly, one player comes to mind – a player who many believe to be the cornerstone of Manchester City’s future, the Stockport born and raised Phil Foden.
Phil Foden is somewhat unknown to the wider world of football, which many attribute to the protection his manager has bestowed upon him in an astute attempt to nurture the 19-year-old starlet into replacing the massive hole left by the soon-to-be-departing superstar David Silva.
On several occasions Guardiola has apologised and displayed his guilt over not including the youngster in City’s match-day line-ups, insisting on several occasions that Phil Foden is in fact his favourite player of his world-class outfit.
Still, with the likes of 19-year-old Jadon Sancho shining as a starter at Borussia Dortmund and Tammy Abraham developing, what is it exactly about Phil Foden that Guardiola is so desperately trying to keep secret?
Phil Foden is a boyhood City fan and hails from Stockport just outside the city. He is a product of Manchester, and it’s written all over the attacking midfielder.
Foden rose to youth stardom after winning the U-17 FIFA World Cup for England alongside the likes of Sancho and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi. Scoring twice in the final against Spain, Foden snatched the final’s man-of-the-match award along with the Golden Ball, which is awarded to the tournament’s best player.
After making his debut and being regularly featured on the sidelines, Phil Foden has gone on to prove his worth by flaunting his attacking prowess both scoring and assisting in stellar performances for the club while breaking countless records along the way.
He is the youngest ever player to start in the UEFA Champions League (17 years, 192 days), the youngest ever player to start a UEFA Champions League elimination tie (17 years, 283 days), the youngest ever player to win an English Premier League winners medal (2018-19), and the youngest ever English goal-scorer in the UEFA Champions League.
It is very often that young footballers are put on a pedestal too early in their careers, which negatively impacts their development. If Guardiola’s plan with Foden succeeds, it will be another feat to add to the superstar manager’s list of unique achievements.
After unveiling his secret weapon next season, how will Guardiola’s City fare?