He's won three Premier League titles, his manager sees him as a gift, and for every second of every game he plays, the boy who joined City is a man who controls time and bends it to his will...
From the moment Phil Foden seized on a wayward clearance by Liverpool’s goalkeeper 27 yards from goal, to him delivering the assist that put Manchester City in the lead, took 5.23 seconds.
In that time, he touched the ball nine times. The first four took him from static into the right-hand side of the area and between two defenders, the next four into a position to deliver the cross.
For the entire 5.23 seconds, the ball does not leave his left foot until he wants it to.
In his career so far, this is what has made him stand out. The close control. The way he plays with his head up. His ability to play the killer pass at the right time.
Since Foden signed for Manchester City, it is highly unlikely he has ever been the biggest player on the pitch.
Wild games of 18-a-side on the streets and parks of Stockport, organised games of 4-a-side at the Manchester City academy, Champions League finals. His technique and timing have been endlessly worked on.
The ability to take the ball on the inside or outside of both feet. How he moves out of danger from the smallest of spaces. All of it is the result of thousands of hours and millions of touches.
Combine this with the bravery and speed of mind to do it on the big stage, and you have a footballer we’ll talk about for a long time.
In July 2017, Foden made his City debut against our cross-city rivals in a preseason friendly.
After the game, Pep Guardiola was asked about his performance. “It's a long time since I saw something like this,” he purred.
“His performance was another level. He's 17-years-old, he's a City player, he grew up in the academy, he loves the club, he's a City fan— for us, he's a gift.”
Three months after this, in the FIFA U-17 World Cup final, he scored twice to help England come from 2–0 down to beat Spain 5–2.
For this, and his ability throughout, he was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament.
If you go back and watch the footage from those games, it’s all on show. The movement into space at the right time. How his body position is always perfect; open to receive a pass, ready to spring into life and start an attack.
The three seasons after that were about continuing to learn his craft. In a star-studded squad and with training at an unbelievably high level, every day was about getting better.
The ball moving faster and faster. His technique tested every day and improving every day.
In each season, he made more appearances than the last, scored more goals than the one before, and became more influential with each moment on the pitch.
In terms of Foden’s development, last season was the big one. He made 50 appearances, scoring 16 goals and assisting 10 more. 26 goal involvements in all. More than one every other game. The standard by which top attacking players have always been judged. He’s still only 21.
There was the left-footed screamer that followed his assist against Liverpool that saw City go five points clear with a game in hand, there were winning goals in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final, and there were endless moments of brilliance to help propel his club to the league title and see him voted PFA Young Player of the Year.
From now until he finally hangs up his size eight boots, Phil Foden will continue to thrill everybody who watches him play.
The technique, work rate, and football intelligence will always make people take notice. Hundreds and thousands of decisions made in a split second that change games.
Those relentless 90-minute shifts that change the course of seasons. Millions of calculations made at the right time that help the team play beautiful football and will see him win trophies and become an idol.
As Guardiola said, he’s a gift.
Two of Phil’s most memorable performances to date came against PSG in last season’s semi-final.
In the 63rd minute of the second leg at home, he played a one-two with Kevin De Bruyne, raced down the left channel and hit a perfect deadweight pass across the face of goal that took out the defence and keeper and left Riyad Mahrez with a simple tap-in.
This article was written by COPA90 and Mundial for mancity.com.