When the transfer window closes at the end of this month there will be one contract in the files at the Etihad Stadium that Manchester City fans will treasure above all the others.
Despite the fact that the English Premier League champions have, this summer, brought in two of the world’s most exciting young strikers in Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez and added England regular Kalvin Phillips to their midfield contingent, it will be the paperwork containing the signature of 22-year-old Phil Foden that will make the faithful smile the most.
In the coming weeks, lifelong City fan Foden will finally put pen to paper on his first big-money, long-term contract – an agreement that will probably tie him to City for the next six years.
At the same time, the deal will bring to fruition a prophecy made three years ago by chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
Speaking in his traditional end of season interview in 2019, Al Mubarak predicted great things for the Stockport-born tyro Foden, who was then on the fringes of Pep Guardiola’s squad.
“Phil accepts the evolution of his role,” said the City chief. “Phil Foden will be a top, top, superstar for this club.
“He will be one the most important players of this new generation we are developing and he will be the future of Manchester City.
“The best thing he’s done is taking the decision of being patient, learning and working with the best manager in the world who has been dedicated to him reaching his potential.”
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Where that potential ends is anyone’s guess, but if Foden just sees out his new deal he will almost certainly end up as one of – if not the – most decorated players in the club’s history and is certain to vault into the upper reaches of all-time appearances.
He will be a key player this season as City seek a third domestic title in succession and bid to end the wait for a Champions League crown.
Foden spent a chunk of last season as a false nine but the departures of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, plus the arrival of the aforementioned strikers, mean he will spend more time this year either on the flanks or driving from midfield alongside Kevin de Bruyne.
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In tandem with his club career, Foden has established himself as a Three Lions regular over the past two seasons and barring serious injury will also be an integral part of England’s squad that travels to Qatar for the World Cup this winter.
Amazingly for one still so young, Foden picked up his fourth Premier League winner's medal last term when he supplied more than a dozen goals in all competitions and won a second PFA Young Player of the Year award. He now has nine major trophies with the Blues (four League Cups and an FA Cup).
In reaching such heights after coming through the ranks, Foden has blown away the oft repeated myth that youth doesn’t get its opportunity under Guardiola. He has become the poster boy for City’s Academy.
Foden has been no stranger to success or the spotlight having won the Golden Ball award for starring in England’s Fifa Under-17 World Cup in 2017 and then capturing BBC Television’s Young Sports Personality of the Year prize. His new contract and senior status is seen as a natural progression.
He will reach 200 appearances in all competitions for City at some stage this season and is on course to wear the shirt more often than some of the legendary names of the club’s storied past.
If he stays healthy and in form, Foden is sure to overtake former teammate David Silva who is currently tenth on the all-time list with 436 appearances and then will have club legends (both soon to be given statues at the Etihad Stadium) Mike Summerbee (452) and Colin Bell (501) in his sights.
Foden’s new deal has been a long time in coming given that talks were first opened almost a year ago, since when the player has changed many of the people who advise him, and the long-term pledge will be a cause for celebration for everyone at City – in the stands and the boardroom.