Former England international Rio Ferdinand has urged Manchester City wonderkid Phil Foden to follow in the footsteps of ex-teammate Jason Sancho and leave the Etihad.
Foden has long been tipped to break into the City XI and cement a starting berth under Pep Guardiola, but the talented tyro has thus far found significant playing time scarce.
Should Foden leave City? Five key things to know…
- Foden has played 20 times this season but has started on just seven occasions.
- Guardiola has previously stated the 18-year-old is “definitely” ready to start in Champions League matches.
- However, Foden is yet to start in the league and many are concerned his development will suffer as a result.
- Rio Ferdinand has now urged the teenager to emulate Sancho, who left for Borussia Dortmund in 2017.
- The three-time England international has since flourished in Germany and is now a regular fixture in both Europe and the Bundesliga.
Given the abundance of world-class talent at Guardiola’s disposal it is no wonder why Foden remains on the periphery of the action, but Ferdinand has pointed to his FIFA U-17 World Cup winning teammate, Sancho, as a beacon for inspiration.
The Camberwell-born winger parted City in 2017 for Dortmund and has since exploded onto the scene with the Ruhr district giants, playing 32 matches this term, scoring nine goals and notching 11 assists.
Sancho’s rapid development even convinced Gareth Southgate to select him for Uefa Nations League fixtures against Croatia and Spain last October.
Ferdinand would now like to see Foden follow a similar path to his contemporary, and seek first-team football away from the north west.
“He’s got great potential, but at the end of the day he needs game time,” Ferdinand told talkSPORT. “He’s not going to get that at Manchester City. Jadon Sancho didn’t, so that’s why he left.
“He demanded regular football and decided to go to Borussia Dortmund.
“To be fair he’s fully vindicated that decision – he’s a £100m+ player now.”
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‘The circumstances need to change’
Foden has often been identified as the long-term successor to an ageing David Silva, with his languid gait and free-flowing movement previously earning him the moniker the ‘Stockport Iniesta’.
At 33, many feel the time is right for Foden to supplant Silva, but the diminutive playmaker remains in peak physical condition and is a vital component in Guardiola’s system.
Despite this, Ferdinand still believes that even if Silva were to fall down the pecking order or face a long-term injury, Foden is still not seen as the next man in line.
“If there’s an injury in midfield and they’ve got a big game I don’t see him being the man to come in and fill the gap,” he added.
“For instance, if David Silva was out then [Ilkay] Gundogan plays there or Bernando Silva replaces him.
“There’s no doubt Foden will improve by training with a squad of that quality, but there will come a time when he thinks to himself, ‘I want to play first-team football’.
“Every footballer has that competitive nature in them and wants to be one of the first names on the team sheet – Foden will be no different.
“I hope he gets the opportunity to do that at Manchester City because it will be great for English football, but the circumstances would need to change.”