The ever-present excitement about Phil Foden’s present and future at Manchester City can often be measured by lofty comparisons to fan favourites.
Foden has long been spoken of as the heir to David Silva - a weighty tag that would have felled lesser players.
When he established himself as a key member of Pep Guardiola’s first-team last season, tearing opponents to pieces down the left-wing, a Leroy Sane replacement suddenly no longer felt necessary.
For fans of a certain vintage, Foden being a twinkled-toed, left-footed dribbler means he is picking up the baton set down by Georgi Kinkladze.
The 21-year-old England star collected his latest man of the match award in Saturday’s 4-1 win at Brighton and Hove Albion as he claimed two first-half goals.
However, even Foden himself would accept there was nothing of Silva, Sane or Kinkladze about these moments at the Amex Stadium.
Sliding in to attack Jack Grealish’s 28th-minute ball across the box, he ended up sprawled on the turf with Brighton defender Dan Burn as the ball looped home.
That made it 2-0 and shortly afterwards Gabriel Jesus wheeled away in celebration, only for Foden to sheepishly tell the Brazil forward that his shot struck him to deceive Robert Sanchez in the Albion goal.
As a pair of goals, they came straight out of the Shaun Goater handbook.
A titan of City’s rise from the dead at the turn of the century, The Goat didn’t often score beautiful goals (even if that volley at Gillingham on the end of Ali Benarbia’s scooped backheel might be the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life), but he made sure the ball got over the line by any means necessary.
A scuff, a bundle, a toe-poke. They all look the same in the record books and Goater amassed quite a collection - famously hitting his 99th and 100th goals in City colours during a raucous 3-1 victory over Manchester United at Maine Road in 2003. As ever when recalling that particular game, warmest thanks and regards to Gary Neville.
The City of today are different to the City of then, but if Foden is to continue his dazzling turn at the centre of the attack, then all kinds of goals are a must. Goals that are more visible on the league table than on highlight reels. Even as a false nine, those demands are very real.
“Unfortunately in the last games, he had many, many chances in front of the keeper - at Anfield, today,” Pep Guardiola said of Foden after the Brighton win.
“In front of the keeper he didn’t take good decisions because he is too young. He will learn a lot. In a moment he will take another step and score more goals.”
Foden certainly appears to have an instinctive feel for false nine duties that other City players thrust into the role lack. At Brighton, his eight shots, four on target and three blocked were more than any other visiting player.
If he can maintain that volume and up the efficiency, then the step forward Guardiola anticipates might be a giant leap.
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Goater, who has previously tipped Foden as a future Ballon d’Or winner, recently took up a coaching role at City where he will work across the academy age groups.
Perhaps Phil can grab him for a chat and a few finishing tips at the training ground on Monday. The Goat will surely have been a big fan of his work this weekend. It really doesn't matter how they go in.
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