Can Foden Hit the Heights with City and England?

Phil Foden is fast becoming an integral cog for Manchester City in the Premier League and Champions League. At the age of 20, the midfielder has taken on a starring role for Pep Guardiola's men, surpassing his previous highs for appearances and goals in a campaign. After making his breakthrough in 2017 into the first team, Foden was forced to wait behind David Silva and Leroy Sane for regular opportunities.

However, following the departures of the two players, Guardiola has thrust the midfielder into the spotlight. Foden has repaid the faith from his manager with sumptuous performances, especially in their victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League quarter finals. Foden scored goals in both legs, including a last-minute effort in the first to hand City a vital lead in the tie before he then foiled the contest with another crisp effort on Dortmund.  

Foden is just scratching the surface of his potential and will no doubt become a superstar for City for years to come. His performances have seen him rise to become an outside shout in the Premier League betting odds to win the PFA Player of the Year award at 33/1. It might be a tad too soon for Foden to capture that honour, but there will no doubt be numerous plaudits on their way to the midfielder should he maintain the standard of his form.

England also stand to benefit from his ability. Gareth Southgate handed the 20-year-old his debut on the road against Iceland in 2020 and it did not take long for him to make a decisive impact. Foden notched a brace in a 4-0 win over Iceland in a return match at Wembley in only his third cap. The Three Lions have been crying out for a player of his ilk since the retirements of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the middle of the park.

England were passed off the field by Croatia in their World Cup semi-final defeat in Russia in 2018. Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, and Mateo Kovacic took control of the contest away from Southgate and his men. Where his predecessors failed, Foden has the skill set to thrive in that environment, handing Southgate a more than useful tool for breaking games open in the Euros this summer.

However, there is always the danger that Foden will fail to live up to expectations. Lampard and Gerrard and, even further back, Paul Scholes were simply sensational for Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United in the Premier League. But, for one reason or another,  they could not find that same level of excellence while wearing an England shirt. Fingers of blame can be pointed at managers as Kevin Keegan, Sven-Goran Eriksson, and Fabio Capello all failed to bring out the best in their respective sides. Southgate has displayed a propensity for allowing his players to flourish, none more so than Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.

All eyes will be on Foden to see if he can harness his promising Manchester City displays while playing for England. He has a huge opportunity to make a statement in the summer when he should be one of the first names on the team sheet alongside Kane and Sterling. Foden could well change the dynamic of international football to swing major crowns in England's direction for years to come. On the other hand, he could flatter to deceive. For his and the Three Lions' sake, it will hopefully be the former.