Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Phil Foden has the ability to play in the ‘Lionel Messi role,’ ahead of their clash with RB Leipzig.
The 22-year-old has started just three times in the Premier League in 2023, due to injury issues and the good form of Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish.
However, after an impressive performance against Nottingham Forest last Saturday, there is a good chance he will start in the Champions League.
City will make the trip to Germany without midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, who misses out due to illness, but Guardiola thinks Foden can play a central role to cover for him, which he compared to what Messi would do during his time at Barcelona.
The Spaniard said: “He can play there, still I have the feeling he’s still young, some maturity [is required] to understand what happens in the middle to read what happens.
“When you play [on the wing] you are moving the right, do these kind of things, in the middle many things happen and you have to read what happens to react properly. And still he’s young. The skills he can do it, absolutely.
“The action he did in Nottingham, like shooting and putting the balls in for Erling [Haaland], is the position for Messi when attacking in that period, it’s perfect for Phil. Phil is really good doing that, in the pockets, in the right like Kevin plays.
“But it’s not just that, sometimes you have to read when the ball is left, right, when to take positions, when you drop,” Guardiola added.
“Sometimes when you play outside it’s easier to do these kinds of things but with time he will do it. It’s important he can play four or five positions as I’ve said many, many times.”
The Manchester City manager’s comments come amid growing speculation regarding Messi’s future at Paris Saint-Germain.
As previously reported by Football365, the Argentine is leaning towards a summer exit from the Parc des Princes, due to the ongoing issues behind the scenes in Christophe Galtier’s squad.
Due to his long relationship with Guardiola, City have always been linked with making a move for Messi, but nothing concrete has ever materialised.
Instead, the Ballon d’Or winner’s next move seems likely to be to the MLS, or, there are rumours he could make a sensational return to the Camp Nou for one last dance under the famous lights – although it seems unlikely.
If Foden can emulate what Messi has done previously at Barca against RB Leipzig, they are in with a very good chance of progressing in the Champions League as Guardiola looks to bring the trophy to the Etihad for the first time.