Pep Guardiola says Phil Foden, at 23, is one of the Premier League’s best players.

The City playmaker, outstanding in the win over Manchester United, took his goal tally to 18 this season – his most in a campaign yet – and sparked the fightback that saw the Blues recover from a goal down to triumph 3-1 at the Etihad.

Asked at his post-match press conference if the playmaker had developed into one of the best in English football, the boss said: “He is right now this season, yes. One of the best. 

“Always I had the feeling he will score goals, in training sessions I have that feeling. 

“Now he is winning games. To become world class you have to win games. He lives to play football. 

“He has always scored goals and now he is winning games. 

“At Bournemouth he was unbelievable. Today he missed the first chance against Onana and became a little bit anxious. 

“That is age, but he will learn. Rashford scored an unbelievable goal, Phil scored an unbelievable goal, too.”

The City boss also says Foden understands his responsibilities better than ever, now as his game continues to blossom.

“When I arrived he was 17 and he had it. He lives to play football,” he said.

“He loves it. He understands defensively what he has to do - before he was not really good, so he understands the games better now. 

“The most important thing, when he got the ball close to the box, everyone got the feeling that something is going to happen. 

“The feeling he is aggressive to score, that’s why he is becoming a really important player for us and the national team.”

Guardiola also says that Erling Haaland has earned the right to miss the odd chance given his phenomenal scoring record.

The Blues’ No.9 now has 28 goals from 31 appearances this season and 80 in 84 matches overall – and he scored the third against United in added time to seal victory.

But an uncharacteristic miss on half-time left the Norwegian visibly frustrated, however the boss says he should move past moments like that – rare as they are – and quickly.

“When he is disappointed, I am disappointed,” said Pep.

“I want him to score four or five like he did at Luton. He can miss this one and be sad for 10 seconds. 

“Miss five more and be sad for 10 seconds in his mind. Then erase it and on to next. 

“The great players I met - and was fortunate to manage some of them - have this ability to forget in an instant, it’s painful. It has to be.

“Forget it as quick as possible, tennis players, golf players, basketball players. They miss, everyone else, too. 

“Smile, be positive, go for the next. That defines the great players and he did it.”