A footballer’s normal reaction to their club splashing £100million on someone who plays in their position might be that of annoyance, concern, or even jealously – but not Phil Foden.
The Manchester City youngster has been joined by his England colleague Jack Grealish at the Etihad Stadium after his record-breaking move from Aston Villa.
But rather than concern over his place in the City team, the young ace is excited by the signing and insists that he can’t wait to play with his new teammate and Three Lions pal.
The pair have developed a close bond during their time together with the England team, and Grealish was full of praise for his ‘little brother’ following his arrival at the Etihad.
“When we’re away with England, it get on so well with him [Foden] – he makes me laugh, he’s like a little brother,” he told the club’s official website.
“I just can’t wait to play with him regularly, week-in, week-out, because I feel like sometimes, when you have a connection with someone off the pitch, you can transfer that onto the pitch as well.”
And it seems the feeling is definitely mutual.
When questioned by Sam Matterface about his relationship with Grealish, Foden told talkSPORT: “The second I went to England and we met each other we got on really well – on and off the pitch.
“I’m just happy to see him see him at Manchester City and I’m just looking forward to getting on the pitch with him because he’s a special player and he can decide games on his own.”
He added: “I think at a club like Manchester City you’re always playing in every competition and the manager always rotates his team.
“I feel like the lads don’t feel like it’s competition, they just feel like it’s an extra added player to the squad.
“The manager always changes the team and everyone has to be ready, so you know there’s not going to be just 11 players that play for the full season.
“There’s going to be injuries and ups and downs, so every player has to be ready to play.”
Grealish normally grabs attention with his mazy dribbling and nibble footwork on the pitch, but it’s something else that has caught Foden’s eye since the Birmingham-born winger has started training with City.
Foden proclaimed: “He has got massive calves! He looks like a proper footballer with his socks down as well.”
City clawed back their Premier League crown last season, after Liverpool won the 2019/20 title, and, despite being just 21 years old, that was Foden’s tenth piece of silverware at club level.
‘The Stockport Iniesta’, as someone fans have affectionately nicknamed him, featured 28 times for Pep Guardiola’s side in the Premier League last season, scoring nine goals and providing five assists.
Despite City, once again, going off as the bookmaker’s favourites to win the title in the 2021/22 campaign once again, Foden believes that there are multiple teams across the division that can challenge them for top spot.
“I feel like we had a bad start last season so hopefully we can get off on a better start,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s one team that I could probably say [is Man City’s main title rival].
“Every team has strengthened – this is the Premier League and every game is so difficult so I can’t say one team.”
One of those teams could be Chelsea, who beat City in last season’s Champions League final.
That was one of three occasions [FA Cup semi-final, league, Champions League final] that the Blues ran out victorious against Guardiola’s side in a six-week period towards the end of last season.
And Foden sees Thomas Tuchel’s side, who are close to sealing a deal for Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku, as one of City’s main rivals next season and he is keen to avenge the defeats of last season.
“They’re a great side and I’m looking forward to playing them again and hopefully we can beat them this time.”
And when asked if they could be City’s biggest challengers for the title, Foden revealed: “They could be one of, yeah definitely, they’re up there.”
PLAY talkSPORT SELECTOR
It’s back and just in time for the new Premier League season, which begins on 13 August with Brentford hosting Arsenal on Friday night
- Stay in the game and win a share of £25,000
- Over £200,000 in cash prizes given away last season
- Correctly select one Premier League team to win each week
- Entries cost £10, click here to play
- 18+, please gamble responsibly, gambleaware.org