Manchester City: ‘Phil Foden can play anywhere’, says Pep Guardiola after Gareth Southgate doubt

Manchester City: ‘Phil Foden can play anywhere’, says Pep Guardiola after Gareth Southgate doubt

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Manchester City: ‘Phil Foden can play anywhere’, says Pep Guardiola after Gareth Southgate doubt

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has made it clear he feels Phil Foden can play anywhere across the midfield.

While Guardiola has most often used Foden at wide midfield, the 23-year-old has also played in a variety of other roles in midfield and attack.

“[Southgate] knows I know that Phil can play in all positions,” said Guardiola.

Asked after England’s 1-1 draw with Ukraine about Foden playing centrally, Southgate said: “He doesn’t for his club, so presumably there’s a reason for that.

“You’d have to speak with Pep, the best coach in the world, who plays him from wide. He’s always got the freedom to drift if we play him wide and that’s important.”

Southgate has played Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield while James Maddison has been playing central midfield for Tottenham but played on the left of a front three against Ukraine.

With Kevin de Bruyne having been sidelined through injury, Foden played in a more central position for City against Newcastle last month and produced a man-of-the-match performance, assisting the game’s only goal.

After the game, Foden said he played central midfield while progressing through the City academy and reiterated his desire to play there more often this season and beyond.

“I have an unbelievable relationship with Gareth,” said Guardiola. “It looks like I disagree with him, but I completely agree with him, in the fact that when you play outside it’s a different role.

“But he knows I know that Phil can play in all positions up front, in the middle, outside right or left, and in the pocket.”

Southgate did explain that “there’s a lot of detail without the ball” when playing central midfield.

He said: “In games like at the weekend [against Ukraine], you’re playing opponents that are so clever with their passing and movement that you’ve really got to be spot on with pressing angles, your responsibilities.”

Speaking at his first media conference since returning from back surgery, Guardiola added: “Gareth has said that, in the pocket you have another responsibility, especially without the ball.

“Sometimes you need to be so smart to read what happens in every moment. It’s important that Phil can play in the five positions in the front without a problem and this is a big advantage for him.

“I saw the friendly against Scotland [on Tuesday], he started playing on the right but moved inside. Players move. It’s not a big issue but when he plays high up the pitch, the defensive responsibilities are less.

“But Phil will grow up with that and has the mentality to become one of the best. He has the mentality to improve all the time and to listen. It’s a big advantage to us.”

In an interview for this Saturday’s Football Focus, Foden said he wants to be one of the best players in the Premier League this season.

Asked about Foden’s aim, Guardiola added: “We cannot be one of the best if your mentality isn’t wanting to be one of the best.

“This is so important when you have a target to climb, everything starts with that belief.”

Watch the full interview with Phil Foden on Football Focus, 12:00 BST, Saturday 16 September on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

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