Kevin De Bruyne got injured in the first match of the English Premier League 2023–24 season and will be out for three to four months. This is the same injury that limited his game time in the UEFA Champions League final against Inter Milan. An injury in the first match to the most creative player in the team was a huge setback for Pep Guardiola. However, he has a lot of depth in the squad, and it looks like the Spanish manager has found a player to replace De Bruyne.
Phil Foden played a role similar to De Bruyne in Manchester City‘s narrow win over Newcastle United. The way this Englishman played, it looked like they wouldn’t miss the Belgian for some time. Let’s take a look at how Foden is the perfect swap for the Belgian.
Phil Foden’s new role
Pep Guardiola changed his tactics during the midseason of 2022–23. This season, he is once again experimenting to find the right combination. Manchester City played in a 4-2-3-1 formation against the Magpies. De Bruyne would have played the number ’10. Pep selected Julian Alvarez in the absence of the Belgian. Foden was given a different role, and that was on the right side.
However, if we look at the touch map above, we can observe the positioning of the youngster. He took most of his touches towards the centre and tried to create things from central positions.
Creativity through the middle
Manchester City players like to keep the ball and build their plays. They try to find the killer pass and convert the opportunity. Phil Foden took on the same role against Newcastle United. He attempted 51 passes in the game, and 49 were successfully delivered. These included two passes into the opposition penalty box with a 100% accuracy rate. The above viz shows that Foden received the ball in different places on the field and distributed it to his teammates.
Of the 51 passes attempted by the player, four turned out to be shot assists. Foden provided an assist to Julian Alvarez in this match. This looks like a simple pass, but it had proper timing that allowed Alvarez to shoot without any pressure.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City players are known for their work rate with and without the ball. Phil Foden is one of the players who gives everything for the team. In the last match, he stood just above the two midfielders. The 23-year-old made six interceptions, and most of them broke the opposition’s play inside the defensive half. He gave a Man of the Match performance in that match.
Last season’s comparison with one of the best in the business
Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden played crucial roles in Manchester City’s treble-winning season. In the Premier League, De Bruyne chipped in with seven goals and 16 assists in 32 appearances. Phil Foden, on the other hand, scored 11 goals and provided five assists in the same number of appearances.
The above viz shows their percentile rank and compares them with each other. De Bruyne had more contributions in the attack, and he is a lethal finisher from outside the box. The Belgian always takes a shot whenever he finds space. Foden contributes to the defence more than his teammate. He was also more accurate with his passing stats.
Phil Foden has grown into one of the finest players in England at such a young age. He is also settling into a big role. Pep will expect more from Foden in the coming matches.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine