Few people were surprised when Phil Foden was named 2021 PFA Young Player of the Year.
While Kevin De Bruyne winning the main award raised some eyebrows, there could be no complaints about Foden’s selection. The 21-year-old has ascended to a new stratosphere this season, improving in every conceivable way.
Across a range of metrics, including goals, assists, progressive dribbles and shot creation, Foden has upped his numbers compared with last campaign.
He is not just an analyst’s dream either. Foden is increasingly becoming a ‘moments’ player, consistently rising to the big occasion and delivering for his side. Here are five times he did exactly that during the 2020/2021 season.
Foden started the season as he meant to go on, grabbing an opening game goal against Wolves back in September.
Fielded as a nominal left winger he was afforded the lay of the land by Pep Guardiola, popping up all over the pitch in an excellent display. Foden played an excellent ball to Kevin De Bruyne in the build-up to City’s first goal and then grabbed his side’s second in a dominant 3-1 win.
Foden helped us blow off the Christmas cobwebs with an electric display against Chelsea in January.
Harking back to the golden era of Premier League wingers, he had Cesar Azpilicueta on toast all afternoon, beating him on the half-turn as well as with his explosive pace.
His reward for such an excellent display was a goal and an assist as City coasted to their only win of the season over Chelsea.
City’s best 90 minutes of the season was their Champions League semi-final second leg victory over Paris Saint-Germain.
Leaving fears of another European bottle job in the rear-view mirror, Guardiola’s charges controlled things from the off. Key to their success was the wonderfully unpredictable Foden.
After somewhat underwhelming in the first leg he came out with a point to prove, wreaking havoc with his unstoppable dribbling. Foden put the icing on the cake of a superb display by laying on the assist for Riyad Mahrez’s second goal of the night, booking City’s place in their first ever Champions League final in the process.
City had a tough time of it against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Although the eventual 4-2 aggregate scoreline suggested a degree of comfort, the tie hung in the balance for much of the two legs. The performance of Foden in both games was vital in tipping things in City’s favour.
His last-minute goal in the first leg put his side in a strong position going into the return fixture where, surprise surprise, he scored again. Across both games he was City’s best performer, proving he has the mettle to perform at the top level for years to come.
There was little question beforehand but City’s 4-1 humiliation of Liverpool proved beyond all doubt that the Premier League title would be returning to Manchester.
This game also marked another important event; namely, the arrival of Foden as a bona-fide Premier League superstar.
Throughout the contest the PFA Young Player of the Year put on an Oscar-worthy one-man show. Foden was involved in all three of his side’s goals, first having his shot saved in the build-up to Ilkay Gundogan’s opener.
After the break he really got going, finishing off an incredible solo run with an assist before wowing fans with a world-class strike of his own.