Rio Ferdinand is adamant that Phil Foden will be on his very own personal mission to prove he is one of the best talents in world football when he starts for Manchester City tonight in the Champions League semi-final second leg. The England attacking midfielder was left on the bench by Pep Guardiola on his last visit to the Bernabeu as the Premier League leaders ran out 2-1 winners over Los Blancos in February 2020.
Yet this time around, Foden is very much at the centre of City’s hopes of reaching a second successive final…
The 21-year-old starts alongside Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus in attack for Guardiola’s side and in the view of Ferdinand, he will be determined to showcase his quality and make the difference.
Ferdinand said as Foden and his City team-mates made their way out onto the turf to the sound of boos from the Real Madrid supporters: “Listen, there is no doubt in my mind that he will be thinking, I want to be the player that affects a game of this magnitude.
“He wants people to say, he was the one decisive player that had an impact on the game.
His dribbling and ability to drive with the ball helped get City up the pitch, something that could also prove key tonight.
Kevin De Bruyne has been full of praise for the City youngster in the build-up to this blockbuster heavyweight clash, insisting he has already matured into a senior player.
“He’s been amazing,” De Bruyne purred. “I have seen him from a little boy with massive potential.
“Whenever you come up to the first team, you are a little bit shy. It takes time and playing time to get comfortable.
“In the last two years, he has been very comfortable and you see the difference in the way he plays. He doesn’t play with ups and downs – he does what he needs for this team.
“He isn’t a young talent anymore – he is one of the guys now. It’s a big step to make but everyone looks to him to make a difference because he can.
“He has proven he can do that loads of times and he will do more times in the future. I’m hoping he can do the same in the future.”