Man City: Phil Foden needs Premier League minutes - Chris Waddle analysis

By Chris WaddleFormer England international
BBC Radio 5 Live

Where is Phil Foden? It is a mystery to me.

England can win Euro 2020 next summer and Manchester City's teenage midfielder should be in Gareth Southgate's side to help them try.

If he was playing regularly for City in the Premier League, then he would be doing the same for England. I have no doubt about that.

At 19, he is good enough to do both - he is that special. As well as his ability on the ball, what I really like about Foden is that he gets in the box.

I was moaning that that did not happen often enough when I was co-commentating on England's game against Kosovo earlier this month, and he could be the answer - a midfielder who makes and scores goals, which is something manager Southgate does not have at the moment.

But he appears to be stuck on the fringes of City's first team and we are left to wonder why he is not getting any game time this season while his manager Pep Guardiola tells everyone he is the most talented player he has ever seen.

It does not add up. I am not saying that Foden must leave City, far from it. But I am thinking of his development, and something needs to change.

He needs to be playing top-level football now, and he should be asking Guardiola why he isn't giving him any if he rates him so highly.

If I were him, I would be kicking Guardiola's door down, saying: 'Look, I need to play because I am missing out on so many opportunities here.'

We know how good Foden is against lower-division opponents, and for England Under-21s. Now I want to see him tested in the Premier League.

Phil Foden scores his first Premier League goal, the winner against Tottenham in April 2019
Phil Foden scored his first Premier League goal with a diving header after bursting into the box against Tottenham in April, giving City a vital victory in the race to be champions

Foden not just a Carabao Cup player

If he has recovered from a stomach bug, I expect Foden will get his first competitive club start of the season against Championship side Preston on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup (19:45 BST).

But he has already made his mark on that competition, when he made his breakthrough in the first team last season.

Repeating the same pattern as last term - when played in 25 matches, but mainly started against lower-division opposition in the early rounds of the domestic cups and some dead rubber Champions League matches - would not represent progress, and it is also not what he needs.

It is Premier League minutes that really count and, in that respect, Foden has actually gone backwards from 2018-19.

At this stage of last season, he had played 36 minutes - including stoppage time - of top-flight football in City's first six league games.

Exactly a year on, so far he has had only 16 minutes, again when you count added time, which all came after he was brought on late in City's opening-weekend win at West Ham. It is not enough.

Graphic showing how Phil Foden has touched the ball nine times in the Premier League this season after replacing David Silva in the 80th minute of City's first game, against West Ham. There were six minutes of injury time at London Stadium.
Phil Foden has only touched the ball nine times in the Premier League this season - all in the same game after replacing David Silva in the 80th minute against West Ham on the opening weekend. There were six minutes of injury time at London Stadium.

Yes, if he had been well enough, you can argue he might have been given some more game time in the past week, in City's convincing Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk or their 8-0 destruction of Watford.

But I am not convinced that would have been the case. He was left on the bench as an unused substitute for their other four Premier League games - against Tottenham, Bournemouth, Brighton and Norwich - and it seems that his situation has not really changed.

He must look at Mount and think 'that should be me'

Of course, I can understand why Foden is not playing much. City have got so many star names and big hitters who are playing well, so Foden faces a battle just to get on the pitch ahead of Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva or Bernardo Silva.

Chelsea's emerging players are in a different situation because of their club's transfer embargo, but Foden must have seen Blues forward Mason Mount come on in England's past two Euro 2020 qualifiers and thought: 'That should have been me.'

Foden has still shown us his talent when he has played for the England Under-21 team - look at the goals he scored this month - but that is the only platform he has had.

It has meant he has fallen behind Mount in the pecking order, and there are probably four or five players ahead of him for a place in the senior squad right now.

That is not going to change while he is a bit-part player at City.

Phil Foden celebrates after scoring his second goal of the game as England Under-21s beat Kosovo 2-0 on 9 September
Foden celebrates after scoring his second goal of the game as England Under-21s beat Kosovo 2-0 on 9 September

Not enough to be 'one for the future' any more

We have heard Guardiola say Foden is not assertive enough, so the first thing I would do if I were him is go and speak to his manager, and ask him exactly what the situation is.

I am sure they have talked about it already. Foden is seen by many as being the natural successor to David Silva, who is leaving City at the end of the season, and it could be that Guardiola has told him that he will eventually get his place.

But that does not help him now, and it is not enough to just say he is one for the future any more.

Football does not work like that and if Foden does not do something about his situation, the season will go very quickly. He could end up wasting it.

Foden signed a six-year contract at Etihad Stadium at the end of last year, but of course he has some options about what happens next.

There have been plenty of other examples of talented young players not getting their chance who either put their clubs under pressure to play them more - like Callum Hudson-Odoi at Chelsea, for example - or decided they had to leave.

Mount went on loan last season, while Jadon Sancho was brave enough to leave City permanently for Borussia Dortmund in 2017, and now he is getting his reward.

He is only 64 days older than Foden, but he is miles ahead of him in the way his career has progressed.

All of these names I have mentioned have done things differently to Foden, by getting games. It has helped them get into the England team, and there are going to be other players following them too.

Foden benefits from training every day under Guardiola, and alongside the rest of City's star-studded squad - and I understand the argument why that is good for him.

But if he just keeps doing that, he could end up as England's forgotten man.

He needs first-team football, in the Premier League. If he does not get it, he will be watching Euro 2020 on the TV while he is on holiday with his mates.

That is what Foden has to consider if he has the chance to leave City on loan in January. Why wait any longer?

Chris Waddle was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

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