Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed that he sees Phil Foden as a central midfielder in the near future but admitted that he does not yet have the ability to slow the game down that elite playmakers like Kevin De Bruyne or David Silva have perfected.
A midfielder at academy level, Foden was long heralded as the long-term heir to Silva's throne at City but, with the Spaniard now gone, Foden has carved out a space for himself as a forward, shining on the wing and occasionally as a striker.
Guardiola handed the 21-year-old a midfield role in Saturday's 4-0 win over Leeds as he rested some of his stars ahead of the Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid on Wednesday, and he got the rewards as Foden racked up two assists.
After the game, Guardiola explained that he expects Foden to be a midfielder in the future, but right now, his energy makes him better-suited for a role out wide.
“I think he can play in all five positions up front - wingers on both sides, striker and attacking midfielder in the pockets. He can play all of them,” said Guardiola. “With time he will be more capable of playing in the positions in the middle.
“He still does all actions at high speed and sometimes you have to have some pausa (a Spanish term for slowing down the game before speeding back up). Now he has the energy of youth and maybe winger suits him better a little bit right now.”
The boss continued: “I'm pretty sure [he will end up central] because when I started to see him in the academy at 15 or 16 he played the position of Kevin and he played really good. All the actions are so, so quick.
“I always talk about David Silva, sometimes he slowed the rhythm to increase the rhythm and Phil's rhythm is always high. It's good because it's aggressive and we need it, but sometimes he needs a little more in that position - that is only a question of time, not that he cannot do it because he can do it without a problem.”
Guardiola went on to confess that he hopes Foden spends his entire career at City. He has two years remaining on his current contract but 90min understands talks over an extension are close to being completed.
City are also pushing for Guardiola to sign his own new contract, hoping that Jurgen Klopp's decision to extend at Liverpool could encourage the former Barcelona boss to sign on as well.