Pep Guardiola backs Gareth Southgate over Phil Foden midfield comments

  • Southgate argued he should not be expected to play Foden in midfield
  • Foden has made it clear he wants to play centrally
  • Guardiola has backed Southgate's stance
Guardiola has revealed his thoughts on Foden
Guardiola has revealed his thoughts on Foden / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has admitted he agrees with Gareth Southgate's hesitancy over playing Phil Foden in a central midfield role.

Despite Foden's public preference to play in midfield, Southgate insisted he is currently best-suited for a wide role and argued Guardiola's use of Foden as a winger should speak volumes.

Asked to explain his views on Foden's best position, Guardiola suggested the 23-year-old does not yet do enough on the defensive end to command a midfield role.

"I have an incredible relationship with Gareth," he began. "It looks like I could disagree with him but I completely agree with him. In the fact that when you play outside it is a completely different role but he [also] knows that I know that Phil can play in all positions up front.

"In the middle, outside, right, left, in the pockets. But as Gareth has said, in the pockets there are other responsibilities, especially without the ball and you have to be so smart to read every moment.

"But important is Phil can play in all five positions up front without a problem and this is a big, big advantage. I saw the friendly against Scotland where he started on the right and moved inside. The players move right, left, inside. At the end, it's not a big issue.

"Of course when you play high up the pitch, the defensive responsibility is a little bit less. Phil will grow up because if he wants to be one of the best he has the mentality to improve. All the time he tries to listen and it's a big advantage for all of us."

Phil Foden, Gareth Southgate
Southgate has deployed Foden as a winger / Alessandro Sabattini/GettyImages

Foden admitted earlier this week his main goal is simply to become an elite player regardless of the position he plays.

"Personally, I want to be one of the best players in the Premier League," he told Football Focus.

"Try and show people what I can do - whether that's in that central role I played against Newcastle or out wide. I want to get a run of games, get back in the flow and show people what I'm about. That's my aim."

Foden has three assists from his first four Premier League games this season and will hope to add to that tally when City face West Ham United on Saturday.