England have had some great midfielders in the past. Paul Gascoigne instantly comes to mind and his career could have been so much better but for injuries and his off-the-field problems.
As England prepare for Euro 2020, is the ever-improving Phil Foden the best English player since the man we called ‘Gazza’.
Gascoigne didn’t make his England debut until he was 21. Phil Foden has certainly beaten him on that score. The Manchester City midfielder made his debut at the age of 20 but he’d had an illustrious England career at junior levels. That includes being part of the English side that won the Under-17 World Cup four years ago. He won the Golden Ball in that tournament to really make his mark on the world stage.
It’s not always the case that those successful at an early age go on to become top senior players. Phil Foden isn’t going to be on that list. He has already played six internationals and scored two goals. Gascoigne had to wait until he was nearly 23 before scoring his second goal for England.
Getting time on the pitch is not easy for young players, especially if playing for a side like Manchester City. Foden has a big fan in Pep Guardiola and didn’t go on loan. You sense that he didn’t want him to go on loan. The more time he could spend training Foden, the better. It’s a policy similar to that employed by Sir Alex Ferguson with players like Ryan Giggs and David Beckham. For Foden, it is a policy that is paying dividends.
The 20-year-old has up to May 17 played 47 games this season for Manchester City. He’s scored 14 goals in those matches. The most that Gascoigne scored for his club in a season was 19.
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Foden has played in double the number of Premier League games he appeared in two seasons ago. It’s not a case of continually being on the substitute bench and coming on for a while towards the end of the match.
Winning titles at an early age isn’t something that was achieved by Paul Gascoigne. He was nearly 29 when winning the Scottish title with Glasgow Rangers. Foden has just won his third Premier League title with Manchester City. He’s won four EFL Cup winners’ medals, an FA Cup and who knows, he may well be in a winning Champions League team before heading to Euro 2020. The fact is that as each honour has been won, Foden has been more influential in the City side.
Like his illustrious predecessor, Foden has had a few off-the-pitch problems. He seems to be able to cope better than Gascoigne and not let the tabloid headlines affect his game. Foden has a long career ahead of him. He is most definitely our best player since Paul Gascoigne.