THE first-ever Manchester derby on foreign soil took place in the US last week as the two Premier League rivals faced off in the International Champions Cup.
Manchester United came out on top in the pre-season fixture, with goals from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford sealing a 2-0 win for Jose Mourinho’s men.
But teenage midfielder Phil Foden shone for Manchester City, catching the eye with his confidence and technique. And our friends at Football Whispers have profiled the promising youngster.
Who is Phil Foden and where does he come from?
Born in Stockport, Foden joined City’s academy at the age of nine and stood out as a prospect of real promise as he progressed through their youth ranks.
However, it was thought at one stage that the young midfielder was not developing as expected physically.
Also that his lack of size could prevent him maturing into the kind of athlete required to compete in the Premier League.
There are no longer any such concerns. The 17-year-old playmaker is still relatively slight of stature but he more than makes up for it with his anticipation, intelligence and surprising upper-body strength.
Besides, now under Pep Guardiola, there is no better coach for Foden to be working with, the Catalan tactician having moulded diminutive superstars Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi at Barcelona.
A standout performer for City’s Under-18 side last season, Foden bagged a remarkable 15 goals in 31 games.
Many of his strikes were trademark left-footed efforts from the edge of the box after a marauding run through midfield.
One such strike came against Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup final first leg, where City drew with the Blues’ ominously powerful and dominant youngsters, only to eventually lose the tie.
Foden is also making waves on the international stage.
A regular for England Under-17s throughout the qualification for the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, he starred for the Young Lions in the finals this year, scoring twice to help clinch the runners-up spot.
Having impressed with the academy side, Foden was given the chance to be part of a senior match-day squad for City’s Champions League clash with Celtic last December.
He was an unused substitute for the game but became the third-youngest player to sit on the bench for the two-time Premier League champions at just 16 year of age.
After his performance against United in the International Champions Cup, Guardiola was effusive in his praise of Foden.
“I don’t have words – I would like to have the right words to describe what I saw,” the manager said of the 17-year-old’s display in Houston, Texas.
“You are the lucky guys who saw the first game, for the first team for Manchester City, of this guy.
“It’s a long time since I saw something like this. His performance was another level. He’s 17 years old, he’s a City player, he grew up in the academy, he loves the club, he’s a City fan and for us he’s a gift.”
Former United captain Gary Neville joked on Twitter after the game that Foden is “at the wrong Manchester club”.
How much will he cost?
Right now, City would be extremely reluctant to sell Foden at any cost.
It has been notoriously difficult for young academy graduates to break through at the Etihad in recent years.
But the club usually prefers to wait a little longer before evaluating whether a prospect has what it takes to make a claim for first-team opportunities or should be moved on.
With the way Guardiola rates Foden, it would take a mammoth bid for the youngster to tempt City into selling at this stage.
What is his most likely destination?
Much of that will depend on Foden’s performances in the rest of City’s summer tour of the States.
“[Foden] will stay with us in the pre-season and maybe he’ll stay with us in [the] season because he’s special,” Guardiola said last week.
However, a loan to gain first-team experience remains the most likely option.