Pep Guardiola's next Man City project? Why Phil Foden should move into midfield to lock down starting berth

Phil Foden Manchester City 2022-23Getty Images

It was only the first half of the Champions League final, but Manchester City fans had a sense of dread as they saw Kevin De Bruyne struggling. The Belgian needed treatment on the floor, and though he continued to play, it was clear he was in agony and couldn't continue against Inter. There was a sense of deja-vu, as De Bruyne had been forced off in City's previous Champions League final, which they had lost to Chelsea in 2021.

Luckily for the Premier League champions, they had a top-class replacement ready to come on in Phil Foden. The born-and-bred Blue, who has spent his life with the club and is perhaps their best ever homegrown player, was raring to go, and he more than made up for De Bruyne's loss in his 65 minutes on the pitch.

Foden gave City urgency and energy as well as his usual grace, and played a key role in City's eventual winning goal. He made a diagonal run back across goal to draw two Inter defenders away before switching the play to Manuel Akanji, who found Bernardo Silva, leading to Rodri to smash home the loose ball.

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Foden also produced one of City's best moments in the game and came closest to getting a second goal. Receiving the ball from Rodri, he spun past Federico Dimarco and tore his way through Inter's defence and into the box to bear down on Andre Onana, but couldn't get enough power on his shot.

Even if he should have done better with the shot, it was both a reminder of Foden's ability to produce a moment of magic out of nothing and that he is too good a footballer to be a substitute. With Ilkay Gundogan gone, there is now a hole in City's midfield, and Foden should be the man to fill it.