Manchester City youngster Phil Foden has played down comparisons to Andres Iniesta after being likened to the Barcelona great by Oxford United boss Karl Robinson.
Foden scored his first senior City goal and had a hand in two others on Tuesday as the Carabao Cup holders kicked off their campaign with a 3-0 victory at the Kassam Stadium.
After the match Robinson hailed aspects of Foden’s game as “genius”, adding: “You’d almost put him in the same bracket as… Iniesta playing in those sort of positions. He’s almost like that.”
It is not the first time the 18-year-old has been compared to the World Cup winner; City fans dubbed him the ‘Stockport Iniesta’ as he rose through the club’s academy teams.
Foden was delighted with the praise that came his way following his fine performance on Tuesday but was also keen to play down the hype.
“I’m happy with that but come on – Iniesta is on a different planet!” he told reporters. “For them to call me that is massive, it means a lot. Tuesday was massive. I’ll just keep getting these cup games and run-outs whenever I can and hopefully I can start a lot more games one day.”
Tuesday was Foden’s first start of the season, following on from a late cameo at Cardiff City on Saturday.
Blues boss Pep Guardiola has received some criticism for not playing the youngster, however, most notably towards the end of last season when the playmaker was given just two substitute appearances in the final five games of the season, despite the league title having been wrapped up.
He did not come on against Fulham earlier this month, either, with Guardiola not wanting to risk his side’s 3-0 lead having had to take off Sergio Aguero and Fabian Delph with knocks.
Foden says he trusts the Catalan to make the right decisions, and has also credited the roles played by coach Mikel Arteta and team-mates David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in his development to date.
“There’s no need to rush,” he added. “Pep knows what he’s doing and I’ll play at the right time. He’s good at bringing youth players through; he’s done it in his career before so just be patient, I’m still young and I’m still learning.
“Training with the likes of David and Kevin and seeing what they do every day has brought me on as a player and working with Pep as well has been a really big part of my game. Both him and Mikel have been a massive help. I just have to keep impressing and keep working hard and see where it gets me.”
Man City tackle Brighton on Saturday, with Foden no doubt hoping to be rewarded with more Premier League minutes after his fine midweek display.