Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne has tipped young teammate Phil Foden to eventually settle in a central role as he gets older and moves towards his physical peak.
Foden celebrated his 22nd birthday in May but has already played close to 200 senior games for City, marking his last appearance in a one-sided Manchester derby with a stunning hat-trick.
The Stockport-born prodigy has made his home on either wing at this early stage of his career. But he has also played in the centre of midfield and that is where De Bruyne thinks he will end up.
“He will improve because he’s only 22. I know at 22 I wasn’t the player that I am now. He’s so good so it’s trying to find consistency. He’s been playing unbelievably for us so he will be here for a long time,” De Bruyne said in the wake of Sunday’s derby.
“What is he good at? The better question is what is he not good at,” the Belgian added.
“He can play in a lot of different positions. I think eventually he will end up playing centrally in my opinion but in this moment in time it is maybe a little bit better for him on the wing to have more freedom and fewer instructions so he flows into the game.
“I eventually see him playing more centrally when he gets older and gets more stamina. It’s all about little details to just find more consistency in the performances.”
De Bruyne isn’t the only one to suggest such a progression into the middle of the pitch, with City boss Pep Guardiola making similar observations in May.
“He can play in all five positions up front: winger on both sides, striker through the middle and in the pockets like an attacking midfielder,” Guardiola said at the time.
“I think in time he will be more capable to play in positions in the middle, he still has all the actions, the high speed, so maybe now the wide positions suit him better.
“In the Academy when I started to see him at 16/17-years-old when I arrived here, he played in a position like Kevin and wow, he played really good but all the actions are so, so quick.”