Pep Guardiola believes Phil Foden is still too shy to secure regular opportunities in the Manchester City first team and said he would like to see the youngster be more assertive in pushing for game-time.
The England Under-21 international, who Guardiola described as the “most talented player” he has worked with during pre-season, made 26 appearances in all competitions last season as City secured a historic domestic treble.
He was expected to be handed a greater role this year but is yet to start any of the club’s opening games, being limited to brief appearances off the bench against Liverpool in the Community Shield and West Ham on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
And although Guardiola remains full of praise for the 19-year-old, he admitted he would like to see him asking for more action with the first team.
“He is a shy guy,” said Guardiola. “I would like him to talk more to me, but all the time I go to him and speak to him, so he still looks at me like a little bit [too much] with respect like a manager.
“And, after two or three seasons, it’s not necessary. But it’s normal, he is 19.
“Now he goes to play for the Under-21s and he is going to play and he is nice. He is OK, everything is in the right position.”
One of the biggest obstacles facing Foden is the number of midfield options available to Guardiola, with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva and new signing Rodri all competing for places.
And although Guardiola admitted that the competition for starting spots is fierce, he insisted that Foden would be spending more time on the pitch in the coming weeks, with City set to return to action in the Champions League and domestic cup competitions.
“I will decide when he plays,” added Guardiola. “I don’t know when, but that’s going to happen because now we play an incredible amount of games.
“Of course, I have said many times I love this guy. I like him a lot, but it’s Man City and he’s playing alongside De Bruyne, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, it’s not easy for all of them.
“Last game Rodri didn’t play, David Silva didn’t play the previous game. That is the reality in a team that achieved four titles [trophies] last season. If you don’t have this squad, you can’t achieve four titles – impossible.
“So they have to fight and be patient and work and work and don’t complain too much, don’t blame [others] too much.”