Phil Foden should be used in midfield for England at Euro 2020 this summer, according to France legend Patrick Vieira.
Former City midfielder and then under-23s coach Vieira was recalling his memories of Foden coming through the academy while he was at the Etihad, and gave his opinion of the youngster’s best position.
Foden started life as a central midfielder, but has found success out on the wing this season and even as a false nine. Pep Guardiola has explained that playing in midfield requires a tactical discipline that Foden doesn’t yet have due to his age, and he is more effective on the wing with less defensive responsibilities.
The result has been a fantastic season that has seen Foden become a first-choice pick on the wings ahead of Raheem Sterling, and that dynamic is set to continue into the summer when the pair link up for England at the rearranged Euro 2020 tournament.
As well as Foden and Sterling, Gareth Southgate must try to accommodate the likes of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish, Mason Greenwood and even Mason Mount.
So a solution, according to Vieira, is to play Foden in a midfield role given his talent on the ball.
Speaking to the ITV Football Football Show, Vieira said: “This is the really good problem for the manager. It depends on the philosophy he wants to implement in the squad. Does he want wingers to give width, does he want pace more than creativity? This is the decision Southgate has to make.
“He’s got really interesting players, if you play him [Foden] centrally it’ll be really interesting because he can smell, feel the game, create something for players and score goals.
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“I like to have some of the best, talented players in the midfield because they like to get involved all the time and touch the ball as much as they can.”
Remembering his time at City as a player and then academy coach, Vieira praised the club for managing Foden’s development despite the obvious talent they had at their disposal.
“I heard a lot about Phil when I was at City,” Vieira explained. “He was one of the best young players coming through the academy. The City Group were managing him really well, they didn’t put him on the spot straight away. He showed his talent and when I was coaching the u23s he never came with me because he was really young and they didn’t want to challenge him too early.
“The way they take care of Phil was really important, smart, and this is why he’s one of the best players in Europe because he managed to build confidence through the academy.
“It was a big decision to keep him to the City family. He is surrounded by some of the best players in Europe, surrounded by one of the best managers in the world. There wasn’t any reason for him to go on loan. He needed to be patient, to keep working.
“He did it, and did it really well. Every time he’s on the field he’s showing maturity, he’s improving a lot. He’s one of the best, one of the players we have to keep an eye on in the Euros.”