Manchester City already have one of the best players in the world in Erling Haaland. Having tied Phil Foden to a new contract, they believe they will soon have another.
Foden’s long-awaited five-year deal was announced by City on Friday ahead of a big trip to Anfield this weekend.
This fixture, away at Liverpool, has seen Foden deliver two of his most complete performances in a City shirt in the previous two seasons, scoring and assisting in a 4-1 win in the 2020-21 campaign before grabbing another goal in last term’s 2-2 draw.
Now, those sorts of displays are arriving with even greater consistency, prompting an even more prominent role for arguably England’s brightest prospect.
When Pep Guardiola shuffled his pack at Copenhagen in midweek to rest key men for the Liverpool match, it was Haaland and Foden who dropped to the bench.
Haaland’s 20 goals in 13 matches this season have stolen the show, but Foden, who matched the Norway forward in netting a Manchester derby hat-trick at the start of the month, has seven in 13 from a wide position.
With three assists, too, Foden is contributing a goal involvement every 81 minutes – more than justifying the faith City have shown in him by agreeing new terms.
“We are all so proud of Phil and what he has achieved already,” said City director of football Txiki Begiristain. “But we know there is so much more to come.
“His natural talent and ability are obvious, but his hard work, professionalism and dedication make him really special. He loves football more than anything, and his desire to improve is really incredible.
“We feel he can progress further and become even better than he is today.
“By signing this contract, he now has stability and can focus absolutely everything on becoming one of the best players in the world, which we feel he can be.”
Foden is still only 22 but has four Premier League titles to his name. Ryan Giggs, who won a record 13, had only three by the time he turned 23.
Although Foden has already tallied over 10,000 minutes across 182 first-team appearances, he initially had to bide his time under Guardiola.
Foden started only three matches in all competitions in the 2017-18 season and 11 the following campaign. Even in the season after that, 2019-20, when he had 17 goal involvements, just 18 of his 38 appearances were starts.
Now, however, the boyhood City fan is one of the first names on the team sheets in the biggest games – this Sunday’s fixture undoubtedly included.
“He’s not a young talent any more,” Kevin De Bruyne said late last season of a team-mate then still just 21. “He’s one of the guys.”
Foden had 16 goals and 10 assists in 50 matches in 2020-21, then 14 goals and 11 assists in 45 matches last time out.
He appears certain to scale new heights this season alongside Haaland, who has assisted two of his seven goals, with De Bruyne teeing up three.
In the Premier League, Foden has six goals through City’s first nine matches, doubling his output at this stage of last season – then a career high.
Guardiola’s patient approach has clearly paid off, as Foden himself added on Friday: “I think he has made me 10 times the player I was.”
There never appeared any doubt Foden would be staying at City, but that does not make Friday’s news and the prospect of five more years in this side any less daunting to their title rivals.