Affectionately dubbed ‘The Stockport Iniesta’, a former trainer has gone one step further with his praise of the 18-year-old
Manchester City’s Phil Foden has been likened to Barcelona star Lionel Messi by former youth coach Jim Cassell, who claims the Premier League side haven’t yet seen a ‘fraction’ of what he is capable of.
Foden has been used sparingly under Pep Guardiola’s management but has impressed when called upon as the Catalan coach looks to ease the 18-year-old talent into the star-studded first team set-up.
Goals in the Champions League and cup ties this season have given fans a glimpse of the starlet’s skills and potential, but Cassell feels that another step forward in development will see young Foden compared to one of football’s all-time greats.
“Philip was a unique talent at six,” Cassell said in an interview with the Daily Mail. “He was a natural, Messi-like the way he covered the ground. He had [a low centre of] gravity, in and out of things.
“I look at him now and think, ‘Come on Philip’. We are just waiting for the next growth thing. After that, he will fly. City haven’t seen a fraction yet of what he has.
“Once he grows again and goes on a run he will be going past three or four players with the ball. Just like he did as a kid, just like Messi. He will be in an England squad in 18 months for certain.”
Cassell is now working outside of mainstream football having been eased out of the City set-up shortly after the club’s big-money takeover in 2008. The 71-year-old, though, harbours no ill will to his former employers.
“I loved it there and will never criticise them,” he said. “I have no axe to grind. That club did more for me than I ever did for them and someone like Philip Foden couldn’t be at a better place.
“I hear stories about how good the food is at academies and how good the facilities are. You know what I want to talk about? How good our players were. I didn’t want money, I just wanted people to think I was good at my job.
“People ask me what I did for a living and I say I created millionaires. Sadly I’m not one!”