It is no coincidence that Phil Foden is one of the most technically gifted players in the world, not just at Manchester City.
Phil Foden is the most technically gifted English player of a generation, and we might have Lionel Messi to thank for that.
The 22-year-old Manchester City attacker is already one of the most exciting players in the Premier League, and now he is showcasing his talent on the world stage for England at the World Cup. Few players possess the same quality of touch, passing and control as Foden, no matter their age.
Of course natural ability has a lot to do with it, but Foden’s academy coaches at City and of course Pep Guardiola must take a lot of credit for their nurturing of such a talent. Now it appears that seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi deserves credit too.
Speaking a head of England’s World Cup quarter-final meeting with France on Saturday, Foden spoke about his love of ‘two-touch’, a practice drill that develops control and passing but can also be used in-game. Messi was the first player he ever saw doing it.
“I remember back in the Academy and City played Barcelona [in the Champions League]. I remember Messi and Dani Alves doing it [two-touch] from a massive distance and didn’t drop it once! That’s the first time I’d seen anyone do it, and I took it into my own training,” Foden said.
“Over the years as I’ve practiced it, I’ve just got better and better at it. It’s not easy, not an easy technique to get the pass right, and obviously your touch has got to be on point as well.”
Having been inspired by Messi as a young player, Foden will look to follow the Argentine’s lead on Saturday. Argentina progressed to the semi-finals of the World Cup after squeezing past the Netherlands on penalties. Messi scored in the shootout, but it was a sublime no-look pass to set up his side’s opening goal of the night that stunned spectators across the globe.