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Man City could hand Phil Foden a new role after Erling Haaland transfer

Man City could hand Phil Foden a new role after Erling Haaland transfer

Manchester City have prospered without a striker for a couple of years, rotating numerous alternatives as false nines but continuing to slice through teams at will, even if the finishing touch wasn’t always applied as frequently as it should have been.

But there’s little doubt that Pep Guardiola will make a tactical change in the 2022/23 season. They will now move on from a false nine to Erling Haaland, who is very much a legitimate No. 9.

When glancing at a City teamsheet recently, it’s been difficult to figure out who will lead the line. If Haaland starts next season, there will be little doubt about who will play through the middle.

It’ll be interesting to see how the presence of a natural striker impacts the way City play and how the squad functions around someone who, while he can and does drop deep to link play, is essentially a ferocious predator around the penalty box.

However, one side consequence will be how those players who have frequently filled in as a false nine now adapt to a more regular role of their own. 

Last season, Phil Foden was a regular in that capacity, starting 19 games as a centre striker and scoring 10 goals.

With Haaland and Julian Alvarez already at the Etihad, it’s unlikely that Foden will be called upon to play in a role he has taken to with amazing ease. 

The question is where he will play instead.

Last season, he made 15 appearances on the left side of the front three, and the composition of City’s assault next season may yet be determined by departures. Gabriel Jesus is expected to leave, and Raheem Sterling is not out of the question.

That could imply more opportunities for Foden out wide, but he did play in that attacking midfield role on a few times last season, most notably in the 4-0 win against Leeds.

Guardiola discussed Foden’s development following that critical win at Elland Road, suggesting he may still progress into one of those midfield roles.

“For Phil, responsibility is not a problem. Since day one going to bigger stages, bigger scenarios and important games, it’s not a problem. He loves to play,” the City boss said.

“He can play in all five positions up front: winger on both sides, striker through the middle and in the pockets like an attacking midfielder.

“I think in time he will be more capable to play in positions in the middle, he still has all the actions, the high speed, so maybe now the wide positions suit him better.

“In the academy when I started to see him at 16/17-years-old when I arrived here, he played in a position like Kevin (De Bruyne) and wow, he played really good but all the actions are so, so quick.

“You remember David Silva, sometimes he slowed the rhythm to increase the rhythm, (but Phil’s) rhythm is always high.

“It’s good as he is so aggressive and we need it but sometimes he needs a little bit, but that is a question of time. He can do it no problem, it’s just a question of time.”

With Foden no longer needing to lead the line, the 22-year-old may find himself in a more regular role in midfield next season. 

His adaptability and versatility are clearly strengths, but City’s new arrival will take away one job from him.


Man City could hand Phil Foden a new role after Erling Haaland transfer

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