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Opinion: Phil Foden has a tough choice to make at Manchester City

Newport County AFC v Manchester City - FA Cup Fifth Round
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Foden was the star of the show this weekend

While a 4-1 win over Newport County was just another game for Manchester City, the same cannot be said of Phil Foden. Handed a rare chance to impress he took it with both hands.

The 18-year-old is highly regarded at the Etihad. He holds a similar standing among those in the England setup. Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate will also be keeping a close eye on his development.

Unfortunately, though, he is not getting the chance to develop as he might. Given City’s ridiculous strength in depth, there has been few opportunities for him to do so.

With David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne ahead of him the pecking order in the squad, Pep Guardiola has a plethora of world-class talent to call upon. As a result, Foden does not get a look in beyond the odd cup appearance.

That is no good for his progress, though. While he is still young, a talent such as his should be playing week in week out. If he was at any other team in the Premier League that would likely be the case. He would walk into any team outside the top six.

NEWPORT, WALES - FEBRUARY 16: Phil Foden of Manchester City(L) celebrates after scoring his sides third goal during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Newport County AFC and Manchester City at Rodney Parade on February 16, 2019 in Newport, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
NEWPORT, WALES – FEBRUARY 16: Phil Foden of Manchester City(L) celebrates after scoring his sides third goal during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Newport County AFC and Manchester City at Rodney Parade on February 16, 2019 in Newport, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

It won’t be long before the youngster has a choice to make. Does he stay at the Etihad or move where he will get regular game time?

He insists he will not follow in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho or Brahim Diaz in doing so. But, he must look at those two and feel envious. Sancho has become a star player for Borussia Dortmund and Diaz is already getting game time at Real Madrid.

The former has benefitted from the playing time and trust the Germans have shown in him. He is proof that young, talented players need to be playing regularly to reach their potential. Foden needs that as well, and he won’t get it at City.

On the other hand, there are numerous beneficial reasons for him to stay at the club. Chief among them is Pep Guardiola. Playing and training under the best manager in the world is a situation most would kill for.

The Catalan boss has a knack of taking players who are already stars and making them better. That must be tenfold when it comes to developing a youngster. The things Foden will be learning from him are invaluable.

Newport County AFC v Manchester City - FA Cup Fifth Round
NEWPORT, WALES – FEBRUARY 16: Leroy Sane of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Newport County AFC and Manchester City at Rodney Parade on February 16, 2019 in Newport, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

The same can be said of what he will be learning from the world-class players around him. The likes of David Silva, in particular, have plenty to teach an 18-year-old midfielder. If Foden is as smart as he appears to be, he’d be watching those around him in training intensely and learning from it.

And that’s what makes his situation such a difficult one. On the one hand, he needs to be playing more regularly than he is. It would aid his development to do so.

On the other, every training session he is undertaking with Guardiola and his world-class squad is a beneficial one. It’s unlikely he ever leaves without learning something new. For an 18-year-old the experience he will be gaining is invaluable.

Whether it’s enough for him remains to be seen. Either way, he has a difficult decision to make regarding his future at Manchester City.

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