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shining star ' I couldn't get out the mindset of thinking 'wow, it is Sergio Aguero' - The rise of Phil Foden

Pep Guardiola's patience has helped 'most talented player' Foden come of age at Etihad

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Phil Foden hit a fine fourth to wrap up the win for the visitors at Anfield. (Jon Super/PA)

Phil Foden hit a fine fourth to wrap up the win for the visitors at Anfield. (Jon Super/PA)

Phil Foden hit a fine fourth to wrap up the win for the visitors at Anfield. (Jon Super/PA)

Phil Foden's coming of age has been slow and steady, but now he is exploding into a world class talent.

Foden's stunning performance and late goal as Manchester City beat Liverpool 4-1 at Anfield on Sunday cemented the suspicion that Pep Guardiola has a superstar on his hands, after several seasons of careful nurturing.

The emergence of Foden this season has almost been like he has been transformed from toddler to the most talented English midfielder of his generation overnight.

City fans and critics alike called over the past two seasons for him to be given his head.

Foden was talked about with near-reverence inside the Etihad for years, as he climbed the stairs from the academy into the blinding light of City's top floor.

But Guardiola doled out appearances sparingly, and there were many occasions when Foden would either start games on the bench or be hooked during them - the youngster's face often a picture of frustration.

Yet until last summer he could still count on "the little magician" that was David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne remained omnipotent as the team's main playmaker.

The Catalan urged patience, determined that the home-grown prodigy could look, learn and understand what would ultimately be expected of him.

Silva is now with Real Sociedad after leaving English football while De Bruyne is out with a hamstring injury.

Finally, Foden has centre stage and it is clear that Guardiola used the time wisely to allow him to develop.

He scored the Champions League goal that saw off Olympiacos 1-0 on November 25 last year - and since then City have won 13 and drawn two of the 15 matches in all competitions since.

Dalliance

They have won their last 14 games in a row and the 20-year-old has scored in six of them, including his sparkling display against Liverpool at Anfield last Sunday.

There was a brief dalliance with notoriety when he and Manchester United's teenager Mason Greenwood found themselves in the sauna after inviting two girls up to their hotel rooms while on England duty in Iceland.

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Maestro Kevin De Bruyne has been sidelined

Maestro Kevin De Bruyne has been sidelined

Maestro Kevin De Bruyne has been sidelined

But no sweat.

Foden swiftly found the bearings that had previously marked him as a steadfast, dependable kid and - suitably chastened for briefly letting down all who had believed in him so passionately - he is paying his penance in style.

Guardiola will have been the most disappointed of all, which is perhaps why Foden pays tribute to the effect he has had on him.

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Phil Foden of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal against Liverpool on Sunday. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Phil Foden of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal against Liverpool on Sunday. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Phil Foden of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal against Liverpool on Sunday. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

He says: "I never imagined who the coach would be if I ever broke through, but I couldn't have asked for anyone better to progress my game than Pep Guardiola.

"I am delighted that he is my coach and he has helped me a lot.

"He has changed me into a man pretty quickly because I came to the first team at such a young age.

"He developed me quickly and changed my game completely, and turned me into a better player all around."

Not that the City boss believes Foden is the finished article yet.

He was asked about him after Arsenal were beaten in the Carabao Cup and said: "Phil wants to beat the world, he wants to eat the world.

"He has an incredible energy but in the final decision, the final pass, he has to slow down a little bit."

Foden always wanted the world's eyes to be upon him.

Now, thanks to the way he slaloms through defensive lines and glides effortless passes around, he is the epitome of the modern, high-tech attacking player - slight but supremely secure, his lack of physicality of no concern.

Somewhat like the supposed pressure he should, on paper at least, be feeling now he had been allowed to fully express himself.

Yet he insists: "I try not to focus on the pressure. I don't really feel it to be honest.

"I feel like when you go out there and play you have just got to enjoy it - try and focus on the football and not focus too much on what it going on off the pitch.

Pressure

"I just try not to feel the pressure and try to enjoy it, because when your football career is over you will wonder why you didn't enjoy it."

Foden is a star in his own right now, having been surrounded by them and even intimidated by the company he was keeping as he proceeded slowly up that ladder.

Now has grown into a man in more ways than one, saying: "In the first season I couldn't get out the mindset of thinking 'wow, it is Sergio Aguero'.

"After a year or so I realised that you have to see them just as teammates now. It took me a year to get over it and now I just see them as teammates."

His team mates now see him as one of the biggest stars amongst them and for certain he will figure in this summer's European Championship bid with his country.

Already he has three goals in two games for Gareth Southgate's side and on his current trajectory there is every possibility he could even be played as striker Harry Kane's sidekick, just as Son Heung-min does so successfully with him at Tottenham.

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