The Positional Switch Which Could See Foden Unlock His Potential Next Season

Phil Foden has had to wait
patiently for his chance in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side but
following a few exceptional performances in recent weeks, the 2020/21
season increasingly looks like it could be his breakthrough campaign.

The Positional Switch Which Could See Foden Unlock His Potential Next Season 1

With
David Silva set to bring his illustrious decade-long spell at City to
an end in the summer and with a place in England’s Euro 2021 squad
potentially up for grabs, the pieces are falling into place for Foden to
become a key player for club and country.

Pep Guardiola has
consistently championed the 19-year-old as a natural heir to Silva in
City’s midfield so if the Catalan is true to his word, where could he
use Foden next season?

Option one: Central midfield

The
most obvious solution seems to be to move Foden into a left-sided
central midfield role that Silva has occupied in Guardiola’s
first-choice 4-3-3 system.

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It is clear when watching Foden
that Silva has been a source of inspiration during his years spent in
City’s academy, as his style of play is very similar to that of the
Spanish schemer.

Not only is Foden left-footed and of a
similar build to Silva, he possesses exceptional close control, an
outstanding awareness of space and the ability to pick and execute a
pass that can split opposition lines.

Although Foden has
played over 900 minutes fewer than Silva in the Premier League this
season, he has supplied 2.5 key passes per-90 minutes compared to his
teammate’s 2.4, highlighting the similarity between the pair in terms of
creativity.

Option Two: Right wing

Another
option which looks increasingly likely is for Foden to play as an
inverted winger on the right flank, as he did to great impact against
Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup final.

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Although Villa
performed well against a side that thrashed them 6-1 in the league just a
few weeks before, they struggled to keep a lid on the lively Foden
throughout the contest with the teenager ending the game with the Man of
the Match award.

As well as providing the assist for Sergio
Aguero’s opening goal, Foden also had 70 touches of the ball – the
highest of any midfielder or attacker barring holding man Rodri – and
fired off a team-high five shots on goal too.

While Foden
isn’t lightning quick as most Premier League wingers are, he does
possess a decent burst of pace and strong dribbling skills, as he
demonstrated against Villa by succeeding with three take-ons, again the
most on the pitch. A place out wide, therefore, can play to his
strengths.

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Option three: No.10

Guardiola
has generally played a 4-3-3 system in 2019-20 and when he has deviated
from that Plan A it has usually been towards a similar 4-2-3-1.

There
has been the odd occasion, though, when Guardiola has sacrificed a back
four to play with three defenders instead, either using a 3-4-2-1 with
split No.10s or 3-4-1-2 with Aguero and Gabriel Jesus paired as
centre-forwards.

If Guardiola were to opt for a back three
in a game next season, Foden would represent a good choice to play in
either of those formations: as a roving playmaker from the right in a
3-4-2-1 or as the chief creator in a 3-4-1-2.