Guardiola fast-tracks Man City starlet Phil Foden to first-team

Phil Foden Manchester City
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The 17-year-old will be part of the Blues' senior squad this coming season and he could yet be joined by Brahim Diaz, 18

Seventeen-year-old Phil Foden has been fast-tracked to the Manchester City first team by Pep Guardiola.

The decision was made in July, before City had played the majority of their pre-season friendlies.

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Guardiola is a huge fan of Foden and has raved about the academy graduate, who has been at City since the age of six, to his coaching staff and friends.

Foden, born in Stockport in 2000, was named on the bench for City's Champions League game against Celtic in December, when he was just 16.

Foden could also be joined in the first-team squad by 18-year-old Brahim Diaz, though a definitive decision is yet to be made and is thought to depend upon City's remaining transfer business.

Foden is one of several youngsters who travelled to the United States for pre-season in July, alongside Brahim, goalkeepers Aro Muric and Daniel Grimshaw, and right-back Demeaco Duhaney, who joined the tour halfway through.

But Foden is the only one who is currently considered a viable first-team option by Guardiola, and he could even be on the bench at Brighton this weekend.

Pep Guardiola Manchester City

Muric, 18, is also slated to join the travelling party down to the south coast as third-choice goalkeeper, replacing Angus Gunn, who provided cover last season but is now on loan at Norwich.

As of Wednesday evening, Brahim was unsure whether he would be part of the squad travelling to Brighton, or playing for City's Under-23s against Chelsea in Manchester on Friday evening.

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The Spanish youngster's first-team fate will depend upon whether City manage to sign another forward this summer, as they are still pushing to sign Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez and Monaco's Kylian Mbappe.

The Spaniard could be called upon to provide cover in the interim, but unlike Foden he does not know his exact role in Guardiola's plans.

Although both Foden and Brahim have shone as No.10s for City's youth teams, Brahim would be used in a wide role by Guardiola next season, if no new forwards arrive this month.

Guardiola sees Foden as effectively his seventh midfield option for the forthcoming campaign.

That means he is behind Yaya Toure, Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Bernardo Silva - who will play predominantly through the middle rather than out wide - in Guardiola's pecking order.

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Foden, however, has long been considered a better option than Samir Nasri, who impressed during pre-season but is still up for sale.

Foden is still expected to play for City's U23s at times this season, but can expect to gain a wealth of experience by being around the squad in training and on match days, as well as featuring in cup games and off the bench in occasional league matches.

The playmaker's squad role could be similar to that of Aleix Garcia last season.

Aleix Garcia Manchester City

Garcia had to make do with relatively few first-team appearances - and has now joined Girona on loan - though Foden will come into a less crowded squad for the 2017-18 campaign, given the departure of Fernando and the expected exit of Fabian Delph.

News of Foden's promotion has come as a boost to the City academy at a time when they look set to lose another highly rated prospect, Jadon Sancho.

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Sancho had been lined up to join Foden and Brahim in the US but was left behind after making it clear he wanted to leave the club due to a perceived lack of first-team opportunities.

Goal revealed earlier in August that Sancho had already said goodbye to his youth-team colleagues, who were left under the impression that he would join Borussia Dortmund.

Several Premier League clubs are also rumoured to be interested in the 17-year-old former Watford winger.