Phil Foden loving new false nine role as Pep Guardiola turns England prodigy into Man City’s answer to Lionel Messi

PHIL FODEN is loving the higher education that Pep Guardiola is providing — to turn him into Manchester City’s answer to Lionel Messi.

Just as boss Guardiola did at Barcelona, in making Argentinian superstar Messi the greatest player of his generation in a false No 9 role, he is repeating that process with the Stockport prodigy.

Phil Foden is loving being turned into a false nine by Man City boss Pep GuardiolaCredit: AFP

Guardiola also worked with Lionel Messi at Barcelona, playing him as a false nine

Guardiola also worked with Lionel Messi at Barcelona, playing him as a false nineCredit: GETTY

After setting up Kevin De Bruyne’s winner just 80 seconds after coming on in Tuesday night’s 1-0 Champions League win over Atletico Madrid, former City player Joleon Lescott said Foden is on the way to becoming the best English player of all time.

Ex-Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand also called the 21-year-old “phenomenal”.

And Foden is lapping up what he is learning — in the position which made Messi a Nou Camp legend.

He said: “It has been a new role for me to learn and I thought I played it well.

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“At times it has been difficult when teams sit with five at the back and you don’t get much space or time on the ball.

“I have enjoyed it and it is one I am still learning.

“Hopefully I can help the team. I have had to study it a lot as I have always been used to playing in midfield.

“The manager has definitely helped me with that, telling me where to be — in the right spaces at the right times.

“It is one I am learning and all I can say is that I am enjoying it every week.

“I believe you can play in many positions and that can help you as a footballer.

“I can play in midfield, left, right — and up front now — so that is going to help me. I just enjoy the change.

“I don’t really mind, as long as I am playing and I enjoy it.

“I just want to score goals and assist. Maybe that is what the manager has seen — I always want to get on the pitch and score goals.

“So I am trying to continue that and build on my goal record.”

Foden’s record against Liverpool speaks to his development since coming through the City academy — he has scored three in three games against Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Foden added: “I don’t think it’s so much to do with Liverpool. I just think it is a big game and I like playing in them.

“I like the pressure and I feel like I play better. I want to express myself — and hopefully I can carry on that record.”

With champions City having the chance to go four points clear of their title rivals today, Foden is in bullish mood.

He said: “We’ve only lost one game at home to Liverpool in 12 years in the Premier League. That is a great thing to have and we can take confidence from it.

“When I was younger, there was always a rivalry with Liverpool — and they have so many great England players as well.”

City had gone 18 years without a win at Anfield until last season’s 4-1 demolition job.

Foden starred and scored in that game and he is hungry for more.

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He added: “It was definitely important to win at Anfield last season and now we feel like we can do it again at home.

“Being a Mancunian helps, you know what the fans want — and I’m sure they will be really loud and help us. With them behind us, I’m confident we can win again.”


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