Phil Foden is “almost too good to go out on loan”, says Danny Mills, but the youngster is facing a big 12 months when it comes to his future at Manchester City.
At 18 years of age, the highly-rated academy graduate is seeing more regular minutes in the current campaign.
He has taken in 24 appearances under Pep Guardiola, netting six goals, and was handed a first Premier League start in the recent 2-0 victory over Cardiff.
Foden is being tipped for big things, but his path will continue to be blocked at the Etihad Stadium by elite international performers.
All concerned now find themselves in a tricky situation, with some important decisions approaching.
Former City defender Mills has told talkSPORT 2: “He [Foden] is almost too good to go out on loan, nobody’s going to buy him for what City want for him, i.e. £40 million or £50 million because he’s unproven.
“But he’s got untold ability and I think this time next year if he’s only started maybe 10 games then he’s going to have a real decision to make because it’s his boyhood club and he’s a fan.”
Mills believes Foden’s thinking could be influenced by the performances of others, with the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi at Chelsea earning senior England recognition after forcing the issue at club level by keeping their options open.
“He’s only 18 years old but he’ll be looking at the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi who also made his first Premier League start, but he [Hudson-Odoi] is in the England side,” added Mills.
“And he might go to the mini-tournament [Nations League] in the summer and off the back of that he might go to the Euros.
“Foden’s going to be sat there thinking ‘you know what, I’m as good as that, I’m even better than that, I want a piece of that action’.
“But to get it, he might have to force a move on loan or on a permanent basis but that’s probably another 12 months down the line.”
Foden committed to a long-term contract with City back in December that is due to run until 2024, but he will need assurances over his role in future plans if he is to see that agreement out.