Soccer-Foden is best player in Premier League, says Guardiola

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - March 3, 2024 Manchester City's Phil Foden with manager Pep Guardiola after being substituted Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

MANCHESTER (Reuters) - Phil Foden is the best player in the Premier League on current form and will become a Manchester City legend, manager Pep Guardiola said after his second-half double inspired a crucial 3-1 comeback win against Manchester United on Sunday.

City were utterly dominant but still trailing to a spectacular eighth-minute pile-driver by Marcus Rashford when forward Foden took centre stage in the second half.

The 23-year-old local boy struck a sublime left-foot shot into the roof of the net in the 56th minute and then beat Andre Onana with a precise finish after 80 minutes.

Erling Haaland's 18th league goal of the season rounded things off in stoppage time -- his sixth goal of the week -- but nothing could steal the limelight from Foden who now has 11 league goals this season, equalling his record.

"It is the amount of games he is playing. He was always a talented player but now he is more mature and understands more the game, especially defensively," Guardiola told the BBC.

"He can play middle, right, make moments and cut inside, play in the left, scoring from the left. What can I say? He is the best player in the Premier League right now for the amount of things he does. Unbelievable."

Foden's quality and level of consistency is making him undroppable even in a squad laced with world class players. His current form also makes it unthinkable that he cannot be accommodated in Gareth Southgate's England side.

"We don't negotiate over that," Guardiola said when asked about Foden's defensive discipline. "The guy who doesn't do that doesn't stay in the team. He loves football, he lives for football. He is a joy and his work ethic is unbelievable."

Guardiola was no less effusive in his praise of Foden when talking to Sky Sports.

"He will already be a legendary player because in a short age, the games played, the minutes, the goals scored, the titles won and he is from the home and that is why the connection with the fans is unbelievable," Guardiola said.

"He is the player of the season. No-one has been so decisive for us as him this season."

City are now unbeaten in 19 matches in all competitions and will head to Anfield next weekend for a blockbuster against leaders Liverpool who are one point better off.

Arsenal can move to within two points of Liverpool if they win at bottom club Sheffield United on Monday.

"Will we do it? I don't know," Guardiola said when asked whether his side will land a fourth successive league title.

"We have today more points at this stage than last season. The difference is Liverpool have I don't know how many more points than this stage last season. When the opponent is behaving like this, what can I say, congratulations so far.

"We will continue to try game by game."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

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