Man City star Phil Foden has 'potential to be England's next Ballon d'Or winner'

Brentford manager Thomas Frank wary of midfielder's threat ahead of Tuesday's Premier League match in London

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Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden has the ability to become the first English player to win the Ballon d'Or since Michael Owen in 2001.

The claim was made by Thomas Frank whose Brentford side take on the reigning champions in a Premier League match on Tuesday that was pushed back due to City's participation in the Fifa Club World Cup, which they won by defeating Brazilian side Fluminense 4-0 in the final.

Frank has also seen Foden's skills up close this month already when the England international scored a hat-trick in City's 3-1 win over the Bees at the Etihad Stadium on February 4.

Manager Pep Guardiola hailed Foden as “the most influential he has been” since breaking into the first team in 2017 and he already has 15 goals and 10 assists in all competitions this season. And Foden himself admitted he was playing more consistently than he had done “for a long time”.

Former England and Liverpool striker Owen was the last from his country to lift the coveted Ballon d'Or which is the annual award run by the magazine France Football and co-organised by Uefa given to the top player in Europe.

Each national team manager and captain gets to vote for their winner, with players needing to have been active at a European club to qualify.

England have not even had a player in the top three since 2005 when Chelsea's Frank Lampard and Liverpool's Steven Gerrard finished second and third, respectively.

Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham and Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane have made flying starts to the careers in Spain and Germany this season but Brentford coach Frank believes their England teammate at City has the potential to become Europe's best footballer.

“Phil Foden is a very good player,” said Frank, ahead of the match at the Gtech Community Stadium. “For me, he's the closest England get to a Ballon d'Or winner in the future. I think he has that potential, that level.

“He influences the game in so many ways. The last game he got on the end of three situations and scored three goals. He is very at good dribbling, very good at sliding people in.

“He works very hard. He seems to have a good mentality in terms of working hard. He is very good.”

Foden is on course to have his best campaign in a City shirt and his 15 goals in 35 games mean the 23-year-old only needs two more to beat his highest ever tally of 16 achieved in 50 matches three seasons ago.

And with City still going strong in three competitions – the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup – having already won the Uefa Super Cup and Club World Cup, it has the makings of another special season for Foden – especially as England are one of the favourites to win this summer's Euro 2024 finals.

“He's an exceptional, exceptional player. He is [young] and already has more than 250 games for City, that shows the impact he has had since he arrived,” said Gaurdiola after Foden scored the treble against Brentford, the second of his career – the other coming in the 6-3 thrashing of Manchester United in 2022 that also saw Erling Haaland score three.

“I don't know his limit. He will decide. For him, football is the most important thing of his life. Of course aside from his family and kids, it is the most important thing.

“It depends on him, but he enjoys a lot. He loves to play football. When you see players like him playing in the street when you are a little boy, you have this sense of amateurism [in the way he plays].”

For his country, Foden has hit the heights of his club form and he has managed just four goals in his 31 caps for England since making his debut in 2020, with coach Gareth Southgate often favouring Bukayo Saka in his attacking line-up.

And Foden admitted after England's Euro qualifying win over Malta in November that he is looking to improve his Three Lions statistics.

“I always want more for myself, I think I can add goals to this team – and assists,” Foden said. “I’m enjoying my football a lot at the moment, I’m expressing myself, I’m playing really well. So yeah, I need to keep that up, keep pushing myself to score more and get assists.”

Southgate's side take on Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia in this summer's finals in Germany as England look to improve on their runner's up spot at Euro 2020 when they lost to Italy on penalties in the final.

Updated: February 20, 2024, 5:35 AM