What more does poor old Phil Foden need to do to impress Pep Guardiola?
The Man City academy graduate was the Man of the Match in the League Cup final against Aston Villa on Sunday but was once again ostracised from the Citizen’s starting XI against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup.
Considering how highly the 19-year-old is rated both inside Man City and in the football world generally, Guardiola needs to start being very careful with his treatment of the youngster or risk losing him for good.
FA Cup fifth rounds are the kind of scraps that Foden has been resigned to feeding off over the past two seasons with Premier League starts few and far between.
Guardiola has a wealth of options in midfield from David and Bernardo Silva to Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri.
World class internationals everywhere you look, most of them now two-time title winners with Man City, so arguably undroppable, right?
Well considering Man City are 22 points behind Liverpool, you could say Guardiola’s boys have become a little stale this year, especially in the Premier League.
And what better re-energiser is there than a hungry teenager who loves the game and, more importantly, loves Man City?
Every time we see Foden we see a crafty, dynamic central midfielder but we also see a man ready to bleed for the sky blue colours.
Someone capable of beating a man, playing the right ball and someone with an understanding of the game well above that of an average 19-year-old.
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Rather than following Jadon Sancho abroad or even on loan elsewhere in the country, Foden has stayed put in Manchester, patiently waiting his turn.
A turn which is looking increasingly further and further away following yet another omission from the first team on Wednesday night.
He will have been on such a high after the cup final at Wembley but not seeing his name on the team sheet for the Sheffield Wednesday game will have brought him right back down to earth.
There is talk that he is the long-term replacement for Silva, who is leaving in the summer, but who’s to say Man City won’t be spending big money once again this summer?
Pep is playing with fire with his treatment of the man who every Man City fan is desperate to see more of.
Guardiola’s tough love might just push Man City’s one in a million out the door.
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