‘Foden can take up De Bruyne’s mantle as Europe’s next best playmaker’

The 21-year-old Man City starlet ran the show for England against Andorra and can flourish in the role for years to come if given the opportunities for club and country

England train ahead of Hungary game

I’ve long held the belief that Phil Foden could be an extraordinary playmaker and his performance in central midfield against Andorra on Saturday had me salivating.

His vision, and his ability to keep the ball short in the style of Manchester City or to spray balls over the top for his forwards to run on to, were excellent.

And as a former striker who still looks out for these things, I know there aren’t too many people around now who want to challenge themselves in that way and say, ‘Right, that defender is 6ft 5in, I’m going to stick a 6ft 6in ball in that creeps over his head and plays in our frontman’.

Foden did that superbly and my hope now is that both Gareth Southgate with England and Pep Guardiola with City will give him his chance to grow there.

As I said in my column about Jack Grealish last week, players will always have a preferred position and if we’re looking around Europe to identify the next best world superstar playmaker then we might not need to look any further than Foden.

Gareth Southgate needs to give Phil Foden more chances to thrive as England’s playmaker



Look, I know it was Andorra and people will say we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves.

But England have been crying out for this kind of player, particularly in tournaments.

Everything I saw from him on Saturday said, ‘This is a player who can go on to become world class’.

And I was reminded about Jack Wilshere and how excited we all were when he first broke into the national team.

Wilshere could pick the ball up off the back four, he could float around the midfield, he could get forward, make things happen and create things.

Foden can do all that as well, but he is less injury prone, more mobile and is a better, long-distance passing version of Wilshere.

That’s not being disrespectful to Wilshere, he was a fine player who was great at triangles.

Both the Arsenal team he played in and Foden’s City like to have heads down rather than up looking for a long pass.

But Foden can do the latter as well and has everything Jack had at his best and then some.

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Foden was electric against Andorra and has all the talent to be a superstar


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That’s what makes me wonder if City might even be thinking that, if he keeps developing at this rate in the next couple of years, a monster bid for Kevin De Bruyne might just tempt them because this kid could go on to take the Belgian’s mantle.

Grealish also impressed from the bench.

It was a bit like he said, ‘Well, against Andorra, I’m supposed to come on, take a few players on and score, so there you go, job done, what’s next?’

While Tammy Abraham got his goal and perhaps the biggest joy was seeing Sam Johnstone jumping for joy when he set up Grealish’s goal.

All that means that at one end of the spectrum for England you have Foden and Grealish suggesting they can be the vanguard of any tournament success we might have and at the other end we have the peripheral players smiling as well.

That means a group of 20 to 30 players are all ready, willing and able to do the business at any given minute.

Rarely, for an England fan, has it felt so good.

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