2017 is the year that the name Phil Foden started to permeate into the consciousness of English football. It’s not often Pep Guardiola is rendered speechless but Manchester City’s chatterbox coach was left ashen faced and stunned by the 17-year-old’s marvellous performance against local rivals United in the International Champions Cup over the summer.
"I don’t have words - I would like to have the right words to describe what I saw," Guardiola said in quotes reported by The Telegraph, the 17-year-old’s talent enough to distract from City’s 2-0 defeat against their local rivals.
"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.”
Four months later, Foden was the centre of a media storm again. Scoring twice as England’s Young Lions roared back from two goals down to defeat Spain 5-2 in the final of the Under-17 World Cup, the Manchester City wonderkid collected a Golden Ball to go with his winner’s medal.
Nonetheless, first-team opportunities at the Etihad are still some way off. It must not be forgotten that Foden has not yet made his senior debut for City.
But you wonder how beneficial academy football really is to a player with such elite potential. Bonafide wonderkids Wayne Rooney, Kylian Mbappe and co were first-team stars at the age of 17 and Foden should perhaps be the same.
With the January transfer window rolling around then, perhaps Man City should give another thought to Celtic’s interest in Manchester-born Foden. TEAMtalk report that the Scottish Champions saw a late summer loan bid rejected for the teenager.
But, like Patrick Roberts and 2015/16 Scottish Young Player of the Year Jason Denayer, Celtic could provide the launchpad for Foden’s career – especially with Brendan Rodgers, one of the best managers around when it comes to honing the talents of young players, at the helm.
Foden is at such a level where exposure first-team football is a must - and renewing the partnership between City and Celtic once again could reap rewards for all parties.