Phil Foden was the star of the evening when Manchester City thrashed Newport County 4-1 to reach the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup. The 18-year-old struck two brilliant goals in the second half with Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez burying the tie. If anything, it showed he’s prepared for a scrap.
Foden’s sojourn has been gradual. Born in Stockport, Greater Manchester, he was a boyhood supporter of City. He got the opportunity to create his own legend aged eight. Barely six years later, he signed an Academy scholarship. In December 2016, he was included in the matchday squad for the Champions League group stage match with Celtic.
Since then, the midfielder’s stock has continued to rise. He was the standout player for England at the under 17 World Cup side the following year. Foden was offered a new contract by the club. And unlike Jadon Sancho, he trusted in his own ability, eager to prove his worth.
That decision now seems shrewd. Foden has made 19 appearances so far in all competitions, scoring five goals and assisting another treble. He is getting ample game time. Even more importantly, he is taking them with aplomb.
Despite his frail stature, Foden generally operates as a central midfielder. He is dynamic and likes to provide the link between defence and attack by receiving short and carrying the play forward. He has already been likened to David Silva and Andres Iniesta but has more of an eye for goal. However, they flaunt similar dribbling style with good close control.
Against Newport, those traits beamed. His goals saw him throwing defenders off balance on a slippery pitch, letting the ball run its course before seizing the moment and striking it in twice.
The goalkeeper took some stick for the first but that was harsh. Foden deliberately fired it low and hard, and it skipped off the poor surface. When Newport thought they had found a way back into it with a goal, he dashed their hopes with a classy second.