Soccer-World-class Foden no longer little Phil, says Guardiola

Soccer Football - Premier League - AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City - Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Britain - February 24, 2024 Manchester City's Phil Foden scores their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

BOURNEMOUTH, England (Reuters) - Gifted as he is Phil Foden has often been overshadowed by Manchester City's big hitters but the England forward is now a world-class performer in his own right, manager Pep Guardiola said after Saturday's win at Bournemouth.

Foden's ninth league goal of the season secured the unconvincing 1-0 win that pushed champions City to one point behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

With Erling Haaland not back to his best after injury and playmaker Kevin de Bruyne used as a late substitute on Saturday, Foden was the spark that kept City's bandwagon firmly on track for a fourth successive title.

The 23-year-old Foden has also contributed seven assists this season and has stepped up to be one of City's leaders on the pitch.

"Forget about the goals -- of course they are important -- but do you know how he played?," Guardiola told reporters.

"How he controlled and accelerated. He has become already a top-class football player. From a little boy, now he has become already Phil, a world class, top player.

"He's so good. He can play everywhere, especially in the central position and play really, really good."

City are now 11 games unbeaten in the league and while Liverpool and Arsenal are right with them in the title race, Guardiola's side are showing again the ability to churn out results at the business end of the season.

They beat Brentford 1-0 in midweek and Guardiola said his squad's durability still surprised him.

"What can I say?, The calendar is so demanding and the expectations are so high," he said. "What they have done for many years with a lot of games and many things.

"And always you believe they will fall down and won't continue to do it -- they surprise me."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)

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