Phil Foden was hailed as the world’s best young player “right now” as he played in Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night.
Man City took a 2-1 lead in the second leg at the Etihad and knew they were in control of the tie, with tight grip early on when Riyad Mahrez opened the scoring. The Algerian scored again in the second half, triggering an implosion for PSG, in what was a brilliant overall performance for Man City to reach their very first Champions League final.
Ruben Dias and John Stones shone in defense alongside Ederson and goal hero Mahrez, but it was Foden who received particular praise, especially for his role in Man City’s second goal.
Marauding down the left flank, after a brace with Kevin De Bruyne, Foden put an excellent low ball in the box towards the far post so Mahrez could touch and wrap up the win, for his third Champions League assist this season. . . Adding to three goals, no Englishman has been directly involved in more Champions League strikes than Foden this season, while only Kevin De Bruyne (seven) has more among the Man City squad.
For the first time in club history, Pep Guardiola reached the Champions League final without Lionel Messi in his squad. #UCL
He now has Phil Foden. 😉 pic.twitter.com/yjNva24agH
– Football Squawka (@Squawka) May 4, 2021
Overall, only eight players have been directly involved in more Champions League goals this season than Foden, including Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe. But former Manchester United defender Ferdinand believes Foden outshines them both in form.
Speaking about Foden’s role in Mahrez’s second goal, Ferdinand said on BT Sport: “Then it’s a question of quality, then it’s a question of execution and finesse and he has that in the bag.
“He showed tonight that he can produce at this level and be consistent in terms of the end product. And that’s why he plays for his team and that’s why, at the moment, I would say Phil Foden is the best young fit player in the world right now.
“On the form, I think he is. I’m not saying Foden is the best player, I’m just saying in terms of timing, right now he’s the fittest.
For some, Foden’s rise could be used as a stick to beat Man City due to the funds they have invested in players, including Raheem Sterling, whom the 20-year-old prevents from making the squad. . But former Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart looked positive, showing residents of the Etihad and surrounding areas that there is still a path to the first team amid all the all-star signings. After all, Foden grew up less than 10 miles south of the ground where he takes center stage.
“His name is Phil Foden, that simple,” Hart said as Ferdinand joked that his name was Felipe.
“His name is Phil, he’s 20 from Stockport and he’s lighting this up. I think that’s an inspiration, it’s so important for Manchester City to have that, you need it with all the money they’re spending and what people are trying to say about them and Phil from Stockport does it.
Six different English teams have reached a UEFA Champions League final, more than any other nation. #UCL https://t.co/4aytj5htrb
– Football Squawka (@Squawka) May 4, 2021
On the night, Foden landed three shots, hitting the target twice, completing three strikes, creating a chance and registering an assist, in addition to his defensive contribution of a tackle. Foden is so easy to watch and with every passing game on the big stage more and more people are finding out why Man City are so excited about him.
“You get the impression that he is unfazed at this level,” added Ferdinand.
“It’s the semi-final of the Champions League, an important match, they’ve never gone further than that. But he came here and he creates defining moments at the age of 20.
Naturally, with the tournament kicking off in just over a month, attention quickly turned to Foden and his place in the England squad for Euro 2020. There is no not that long ago, there were discussions as to whether he would be part of the team, battling Mason. Mount, Jack Grealish and James Maddison. But now he’s tipped not just to make the squad, but also to start for Gareth Southgate.
Ferdinand said: “He has to be one of the first names on the sheet right now because he’s doing it at this level.
“What other English players are doing it at this level right now?”
On the current form it’s hard to disagree and alongside Mount, Foden is a player around whom England can build their future. But for Man City and Foden that won’t matter for now, as all eyes are firmly committed to winning the Champions League at the end of May.