4 The Daily Telegraph Friday 3 July 2020 ** Sport Football Foden comes of age and must be allowed to shine By Sam Wallace Chief Football Writer At such a tender age Foden has so perfected the art of passing that he does not even have to look where the ball is going. It was the same with his assist for David Silva’s goal against Burnley when the eyes said one way and the feet said another. At 20, Foden has the kind of face that feels like it could belong to any football era, staring back at you from a sepia picture of young souls in long shorts and louche poses all blithely unaware of the dreaded future indicated by the year inscribed on their leather ball. Yet as a footballer he feels extremely 21st century, and of the like that the English game has been trying to produce for a very long time. It is hard to think of another quite like him. Joe Cole, perhaps, a man born in the wrong era who nevertheless Prodigy has all the craft and poise to lead the way for a new breed of England youngsters with the world at their feet F or Phil Foden, Project Restart has been less like an appendix to the old season of 2019-2020 than a riveting opening chapter for what lies ahead in 20202021 – which he could yet start as a Champions League winner. Somewhere in lockdown, as the world retreated to its front rooms and back gardens, the 10 glorious years of the David Silva era at Manchester City passed into history and in its place came another passing sprite with a gossamer touch. Since the Premier League came back, Foden has been busy unlocking defences in empty stadiums. Against Liverpool last night he continued a goalscoring groove, four now since the restart, that is making his form impossible to ignore. His first-half strike in the Etihad Stadium in City’s victory over Liverpool was swept in with his stronger right foot after he had made the original pass into Kevin De Bruyne with his left. Foden has got so used to dispatching a ball in one direction while pointing his eyes in the other that it looks like it has become second nature. He might have been looking over at the corner flag when he lifted the ball over Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson. The great Ronaldinho was the same. One imagines he could not have passed the salt cellar at the dinner table without first giving the intended recipient every impression it was going elsewhere. He can take a ball in any situation and ensure its safety, as well as make and score goals managed to have a very good career in spite of it. England have rarely had the kind of players who, like Foden, can take the ball in any situation and guarantee its safety as well as make goals and score them. It should also not be forgotten that Foden is an exceptional dribbler of the ball, although we shall surely see it soon enough in the Premier League given the arc of his recent development. Drafted into the England Under-21s squad for the European Championship last summer, he showed all his potential when he memorably scored a fabulous individual goal against France in Italy. Pep Guardiola selected Foden on the right of a front three against Liverpool, a decision that will give In possession: Phil Foden (right) competes with Sadio Mane as he plays a major role in ensuring a Manchester City victory unnoticed. By next summer it is hard to imagine he will be anything other than a key figure in Southgate’s Euro 2020 team one year late, the main question being where exactly he will play. It is a glittering future for Foden, even if it feels like he has had to earn it slowly with Guardiola. The decision not to loan him out to the Championship or a lesser Premier League side has been entirely vindicated by City. That also makes him a rarity among this currently blooming crop of young Englishmen. Of course there will be setbacks, and the salutary tale of Jack Gareth Southgate food for thought. Until now he has been played deeper and more centrally with the general progress seemingly pushing him into a No 10 role or perhaps something closer to the deeper position De Bruyne currently plays. Yet coming in from the right side, as Foden did against Liverpool makes him much more difficult to pick up for opposition and does not seem to limit the amount of touches that he has of the ball. His spatial awareness is such that he seems to spot the runs that appear to take place on his blindside. Kyle Walker’s overlaps rarely go Wilshere, another brilliant young England midfield conductor cut from the same cloth whose star faded so swiftly with injuries. He picked up his last England cap six months after his 24th birthday. Foden has something over other England prodigies such as Wayne Rooney and Wilshere in that he finds himself at the heart of a great generation and will not have to take the spotlight alone. Even so, when he finds himself the local lad in one of the greatest sides in Europe, assembled from among the world’s best players, that spotlight will always be intense. Lampard targets Havertz as Kepa’s future left in doubt Dortmund ‘win Bellingham race’ By Matt Law By James Ducker and his parents a tour of the club’s training ground in the days before the country went into lockdown in Ham United on Wednesday night and Lampard will consider his options in the position at the end of the season. Chelsea have no chance of recouping anywhere near the £71.6 million they spent to make Kepa the world’s most expensive goalkeeper almost two years ago, which makes a loan the most realistic option for replacing him. There is interest from La Liga clubs in taking Kepa back to Spain for at least a season, but it is unlikely that any of those clubs would be willing or able to pay his £150,000-a-week wages. Chelsea would need to agree to pay a percentage of Kepa’s salary on loan to free up space for Lampard to sign a new keeper during the next transfer window. Lampard’s chances of landing Havertz this summer were boosted by Leverkusen missing out on Champions League qualification. However, they could still face competition for the player from Bayern, with Real Madrid also thought to have shown an interest. Chelsea are ready to step up their pursuit of Kai Havertz after the attacking midfielder plays for Bayer Leverkusen in tomorrow’s German Cup final against Bayern Munich. But the possibility of head coach Frank Lampard trying to sign a new goalkeeper may rest on whether Chelsea are prepared to pay a percentage of Kepa Arrizabalaga’s wages to loan out the Spaniard. Kepa was once again at fault in Chelsea’s costly 3-2 defeat at West Borussia Dortmund believe they have beaten Manchester United in the race to sign Birmingham City’s Jude Bellingham, as revealed by last month. The midfielder was free to sign a professional contract after turning 17 on Monday and it is understood that the Bundesliga side have agreed to pay Birmingham an intitial £20.7 million and will sign him on a five-year contract. United had given Bellingham In demand: Birmingham’s midfielder Jude Bellingham was a Manchester United target but looks likely to head to the Bundesliga The Daily Telegraph March due to coronavirus. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Sir Alex Ferguson were part of the charm offensive.
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