Pep Guardiola had high praise for Phil Foden and Benjamin Mendy after both players impressed in Manchester City's Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.

Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick as City, who were already sure to progress from Group C, came from a goal down to win 4-1 in Croatia and complete an unbeaten group-stage campaign, but Foden was the standout performer on his 50th appearance for the club.

When it was put to Guardiola in a news conference that Foden's display was "something else" for a 19-year-old, the City manager smiled and replied: "As always."

Guardiola added: "I think when he's close to the box he's more dangerous than when he's away from the box. I think he still has to learn a little bit when he plays a little bit away [from the box]... the tempo, the spaces.

"But when he plays close to the box and he can attack the central defenders, attack the goal, he's an incredibly dangerous player. So he played really well again. Really, really well."

Mendy has struggled for fitness and form during his time at City, but Guardiola was also impressed with the former Monaco defender's display, stating: "He played his best game of the season."

However, the former Barcelona coach refused to reveal whether Mendy can consider himself the Premier League champions' first-choice left-back, with Angelino and Oleksandr Zinchenko his other options.

"They have to fight... and I will decide," said Guardiola. "Angelino, when he played, especially at Anfield in a tough game, he was incredible. We know the quality from Oleks [Zinchenko], and of course Mendy has this physicality when he's fit and especially when his mind and his head is in the right position, he's an extraordinary player."

Dinamo finished bottom of the group as a result of their defeat, when a win would have earned them second place at Atalanta's expense.

Nevertheless, coach Nenad Bjelica said: "I am proud and happy for everything we showed in these six matches. We were fighting to go through until the last half of the group stage and we played against big clubs all the way."
 

Gabriel Jesus helped himself to a hat-trick as Manchester City came from behind to win 4-1 and end Dinamo Zagreb's Champions League hopes.

Dinamo were eying a place in the knockout stages for the first time in their history and they were going through when Dani Olmo's sublime volley opened the scoring.

City headed into the match on the back of a chastening derby defeat to Manchester United and with their place in the last-16 as group winners already secured.

However, Pep Guardiola's side summoned the fight to pull level through Jesus' 34th-minute header and a quickfire brace early in the second half – taking the 22-year-old past 100 career goals – ended the argument, before Phil Foden got the goal his efforts deserved four minutes from full-time.

A sedate opening to the contest was blown apart in the 10th minute when Olmo watched Damian Kadzior's pass over his right shoulder to volley superbly beyond the flimsy efforts of Claudio Bravo in the City goal.

Bravo's opposite number Dominik Livakovic got down well to keep out Ilkay Gundogan's deflected low drive but City offered little threat until an equaliser the hosts angrily disputed.

Attempts to win the ball back from Foden and Jesus left Zagreb players nursing knocks, but City understandably played on with Petar Stojanovic prone on the turf and their Brazil striker headed home Riyad Mahrez's floated cross.

Tempers flared immediately afterwards, with Dinamo captain Arijan Ademi booked for his confrontational protests, although there was no excuse for Amer Gojak's elbow into Rodri's face in first-half stoppage time. Inexplicably, there was no red card despite VAR being available.

Nanad Bjelica's men failed to channel their indignation in a lackadaisical start to the second half, with Jesus coolly doubling his tally from Foden's deft pass.

Switching Foden on to the left of the City forward line and Bernardo Silva back into midfield was reaping dividends, mainly for Jesus, who steered home Benjamin Mendy's cross following a delightfully slick 54th-minute move.

Joao Cancelo thundered over before Jesus headed wastefully over from another Mendy cross as the fight fell out of Dinamo, with Foden slotting in Silva's cutback for the final flourish as the home team's European adventure came to an end.

What does it mean? Undefeated group campaign can bolster City's Euro belief

Speaking to BT Sport before the match, Ilkay Gundogan conceded City's hopes of a third consecutive Premier League title are effectively over as they sit 14 points behind leaders Liverpool. It means the focus come February can turn towards the one major honour to elude Guardiola during his time in Manchester. The pressure of the latter stages of this competition have frequently overwhelmed City but a much-changed side overcoming a deficit with composure and class in a hostile environment is something to build on. For Dinamo, meanwhile, the loss allied to Atalanta's win left them bottom of the group.

Fifty-up Foden makes case for more prominent role

Jesus will deservedly take the headlines but City's England Under-21 midfielder provided the spark for their equaliser, created the second and fed Mendy to cross for the third. Foden then showed his eye for a goal and bring a verve and energy sorely lacking from many of his team's recent displays. This was a 50th outing in City colours ​– many more should come in the starting XI from this point.

VARCE! Lack of red card for Gojak a joke

As Dinamo forlornly chased shadows during the second half, Gojak might have wished referee Carlos del Cerro Grande had put him out of his misery. But on he played, after the sight of the Zagreb midfielder thudding his elbow close to Rodri's eye socket provided a major talking point. If VAR cannot help the officials out in such a – to coin a phrase – clear and obvious instance, serious questions must be asked.

What's next

Dinamo will hope for better local-derby fortunes than City when they host Lokomotiva Zagreb on Saturday. Guardiola's side travel to face managerless Arsenal in the Premier League a day later.

Pep Guardiola remains convinced Phil Foden has the ability to become the heartbeat of the Manchester City team after David Silva leaves the club.

Silva, 33, has already confirmed his intention to depart City at the end of the season when his contract expires, bringing a 10-year spell at the club to a close.

The Spaniard has become a City icon, with many of the opinion he has been the Premier League's greatest foreign import, enjoying great success and consistency.

He has mostly been kept back for Premier League action this term, making only two appearances in the Champions League, and he will be missing again for Wednesday's trip to Dinamo Zagreb, with Sergio Aguero and John Stones also absent.

"All three are injured," Guardiola confirmed to reporters on Tuesday. "David had a huge kick in the dangerous part of his leg and it is too much of a risk to play.

"John is out for the next weeks, Sergio is better but he is not ready."

Silva's absence means England Under-21 international Foden is likely to get a rare start.

The 19-year-old is highly rated at City and has shown glimpses of immense talent in his short career, but he has only been afforded 83 minutes of Premier League football this season.

Guardiola has been accused of underusing the midfielder, though he insists his faith in Foden is unwavering, confident he can be a key player once Silva leaves.

When asked if Foden will be the heartbeat of City's team from next season, Guardiola said: "That is our wish.

"Of course David is a legend – the amount of games, the amount of titles, but that is our wish and we believe he [Foden] can do it.

"He can do it, in small spaces he is so good, Phil. He has this incredible quality for the first reception in small spaces – also the box to box, like a typical English player. He will get the minutes he needs at his age right now.

"Always he has a good impact coming from the bench. Some players don't have an impact coming from the bench, always I have that feeling from Phil.

"Against Atalanta we believed he could play an incredible game and he did it. Alongside him are Rodri, [Ilkay] Gundogan, Kevin [De Bruyne] – many players, but I never doubt about him [Foden]. Whether he plays 90 minutes, 20 minutes or not one single minute, the confidence is always there."

Another highly rated prospect will face City in the form of Dani Olmo, whom Guardiola jokingly suggested was one of hundreds of players the Premier League champions want to buy.

"We want to buy 100 players every month," he quipped. "One of them is Olmo. We'll see.

"He's an incredible surprise, he came from Barcelona's academy and it's not easy to come here [Zagreb], and with the Spain Under-21s he was one of the best players.

"So, maybe it's the last year or one of the last years he's here, then he'll go to one of the big clubs to compete for a big name. I'm so glad for him, he's doing so well in this league and the Champions League – the future is in his hands."

Phil Foden says Manchester City must set their sights on the daunting task of winning every remaining Premier League game this season after they slipped 11 points behind leaders Liverpool.

A 2-2 draw at Newcastle United, who twice came from behind on Saturday, saw Pep Guardiola's champions fail to win for the fifth time in 14 league fixtures.

Liverpool, by contrast, have dropped only two points and a subsequent 2-1 home win for the Reds over Brighton and Hove Albion boosted their already considerable advantage over City.

Guardiola has urged his side to stop thinking about the title race and instead divert all their energy into claiming victories in each individual game.

City won their final 14 league games last term to pip Liverpool to top spot and Foden knows a similar streak is now required as they approach a hectic period in the domestic calendar.

"It's not in our hands now. All we can do is win every game. It's going to be a big challenge for us," said the 19-year-old, who came off the bench as a second-half replacement for David Silva at St James' Park.

"I think [December] is the most important time of the season. Teams usually drop points.

"It's going to be interesting. All we can do now is to try to win all our games and see where it takes us."

Foden acknowledged Jonjo Shelvey's superb 88th-minute equaliser represented a painful blow for a City side who had not long retaken the lead through a magnificent Kevin De Bruyne half-volley.

"We thought that [De Bruyne's goal] was going to be the winner," he added.

"But they kept going and they managed to score a great strike in the end, unfortunately for us. We were all gutted in the changing room. We need to move forward and focus on our next games."

Gareth Southgate has classed Phil Foden among the "talented players" who can count themselves unlucky to be on the outer for England.

Considered one of the top prospects of his generation, the Manchester City midfielder has been made to wait for a maiden senior call-up as he seeks regular minutes at club level.

Foden, 19, scored for England's Under-21s in a 3-0 win over Albania the day after Southgate's side hammered Montenegro 7-0 at Wembley.

More of the same for City, for whom he has made four substitute appearances in the Premier League this season, could yet catapult the highly rated teenager into selection contention for Euro 2020.

"You know, we're still looking at Foden and thinking that it's a case of when, rather than if, unless something goes wildly off-track for him," Southgate said when assessing his options.

"So, there are some very good players, talented players that weren't in this squad. Obviously, guys that have been with us before like Dele [Alli] as well.

"We have got incredible competition for places, particularly in those attacking five positions."

The sheer number of players blocking Foden's path poses a similar problem to the one he faces at the Etihad Stadium.

Mason Mount, James Maddison, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are among those vying for spots in Southgate's preferred 4-3-3 system.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another in contention to claim a starting berth alongside Jordan Henderson and Harry Winks, who appears to have edged ahead of Declan Rice in the holding role.

Liverpool midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his fine form by scoring the opener against Montenegro on Thursday, having battled back from a serious knee injury suffered two months before the World Cup.

"In that time there have been a lot of other boys who have come through," Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

"There are different players and new dynamics, so it is nice to slot back in and push myself to keep improving and try to find something different to help this team move forward.

"I've made steps forward for sure with where I was before. I've got that feeling back of attacking and getting into areas and a few goals help that and help my confidence and for others to say I have found my form."

In the past six meetings between Manchester City and Liverpool in major competitions Pep Guardiola used notably different tactical setups on each occasion.

Defensive problems with a 3-5-2 despite a 5-0 win over the 10-man Reds in September 2017 prompted a switch to his tried and trusted 4-3-3 as City swept all before them on the way to a 100-point haul and Premier League glory in 2017-18.

Well, almost all. Liverpool won a thriller 4-3 on Merseyside in the January of that campaign – persuading Guardiola to select a diamond midfield for the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final three months later.

That didn't work either, as City were ransacked 3-0 and were unable to turn the tie around despite an all-or-nothing 3-1-4-2 line-up tearing into the return leg at the Etihad Stadium with gusto.

Last season it was out with the cavalier and in with control, whether that was Bernardo Silva playing in a deeper central midfield position during a 0-0 draw in Liverpool or Aymeric Laporte playing on the left of a defence able to pivot from a four to a three in a gripping 2-1 triumph in Manchester.

City will search for a first Anfield win in 16-and-a-half years on Sunday, with Liverpool's six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table compromising their ambitions of a third straight title.

Ederson this week joined an injury list featuring Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane, David Silva and Oleksandr Zinchenko, meaning an even taller order for Guardiola against the most persistently challenging adversary of his coaching career.

Here, we look at how Guardiola might approach his latest crack at the Klopp conundrum.

4-4-2, 1-4-4-1 – Guardiola's 2019-20 shape experiments

During August's Community Shield encounter against Liverpool, where a typically tight game went City's way on penalties after a 1-1 draw, Guardiola debuted a tweak to his 4-3-3. One of the attacking midfielders – in this instance Kevin De Bruyne – would press high and close to the centre forward, forming a 4-4-2 shape without the ball.

Ostensibly, this ploy has been designed for an aging David Silva to be able to press in a more economical fashion. The master playmaker is likely to miss out at Anfield with a muscular injury, however, and namesake Bernardo seemed a good fit for the role during the first half against Atalanta.

The Portugal international's positioning allowed him to play an astute pass to create Raheem Sterling's opener after the goalscorer won back possession with an interception.

Expect to see more of that when the hosts have the ball, while a new configuration when building play from the back might be used to try and neutralise Liverpool's formidable press.

Ederson's supreme ability with the ball at his feet is simply not replicated by Claudio Bravo, despite the Camp Nou credentials of the man who will deputise for City's injured Brazil international.

This will undoubtedly compromise the construction of the visitors' attacks on Sunday, meaning Fernandinho's accelerated progression from makeshift to mainstay at centre-back is likely to be locked in.

A notable ploy in the games against Crystal Palace away and Atalanta at home, when Guardiola paired Fernandinho with fellow defensive midfielder Rodri in the heart of defence, was one of the centre-backs moving alongside the holding midfielder when City started their build-up.

This created another passing option for the goalkeeper and deeper centre-back and amounted roughly to a 1-4-4-1 shape.

Fernandinho's superb passing range and John Stones' smooth style being suited to this approach means there is another argument for Nicolas Otamendi being the odd man out in defence, before considering his ranking alongside Bravo in the accident-prone stakes.

A time for Foden?

Ever since his maiden first-team appearance two years ago, the understandable clamour for boyhood City fan Phil Foden to feature more frequently has steadily grown.

The difference this season is a case can be made beyond romanticism and the importance of the 19-year-old's development; in certain matches and situations, City look better with Foden in the side

He dazzled for the most part when he started the 5-1 win over Atalanta, only to blot his good work with a pair of needless late bookings. That red card is a reason for Guardiola to stick with more tried and tested names, but he cited the England Under-21 star's box-to-box capabilities as the reason for his selection and frequent success against the Serie A side.

The playmaker's presence lends a dynamism to City's midfield that was notably lacking from this season's Premier League defeats to Norwich City and Wolves, and meeting Liverpool's verve and energy head on feels like a must.

Guardiola's midweek trident of Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and De Bruyne might well have been road tested with Anfield in mind, but throwing Foden into a high-stakes encounter – as when he scored the winner in last season's vital 1-0 victory over Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium – is being given strong consideration.

"Phil Foden has a great stamina capacity, a great thing against Liverpool," a source close to Guardiola told Omnisport before David Silva's injury made Foden's path to the first XI theoretically more straightforward.

"I think City are not interested in a crazy match versus Liverpool, but to try to be in control of the ball. But finally, that [picking Foden] is the crucial decision around Pep's match plan."

 

Aguero or Jesus… or both?

Sergio Aguero has started 2019-20 in typically prolific form, scoring 13 times in 14 appearances, despite sometimes appearing to be operating shy of top gear.

At the same time, Gabriel Jesus is also enjoying a strong run of form and, given Guardiola's frequently stated admiration for the Brazil striker's high-pressing, there could be a temptation to switch his attacking spearhead.

However, as separate as it remains from what he brings in open play, Jesus' feeble penalty at San Siro will not have helped his case. Also, Aguero's pedigree in big games – even allowing for the anomaly of him never finding the net at Anfield – surely sways the argument in his favour.

Jesus' revival after an underwhelming 2018-19 came playing on the right-hand side of Brazil's attack. Guardiola has not played Aguero and Jesus together in the same 4-3-3 forward line with any frequency since the early months of 2017-18 and a bold Jesus-Aguero-Sterling frontline would certainly raise eyebrows on Merseyside.

It could also cause plenty of problems. Nevertheless, Bernardo Silva's tireless work rate to negate Andy Robertson or Riyad Mahrez looking to atone a wretched penalty miss of his own on the same ground 13 months ago remain far more likely options on Guardiola's right flank.

Omnisport's predicted Manchester City line-up to face Liverpool: Bravo; Walker, Fernandinho, Stones, Mendy; Gundogan, De Bruyne, Foden; Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling.

Pep Guardiola believes Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz had the quality to play for Manchester City, who were frustrated previously in their efforts to secure a work permit for the Brazilian.

Douglas Luiz was on City's books from 2017 to 2019 but was forced to go out on loan to Girona in consecutive seasons before sealing a reported £15million switch to Villa.

Guardiola spoke of his disappointment at failing to get the midfielder a permit in 2018, when City were short on options to cover Fernandinho.

The Premier League champions have since signed Rodri, although he is out injured, and Guardiola suggested there could still be the option for Douglas Luiz to return to City in the future.

"He would be here if the work permit had been possible," Guardiola said of Douglas Luiz ahead of City's meeting with Villa.

"The work permit was not possible, so loan, loan, and now he's at Aston Villa. I think we have an option to bring him back.

"But sometimes life is like this. We wanted him because in the last season we had a problem in that position because we didn't buy a holding midfielder in the last three or four seasons.

"Douglas Luiz - we thought about that. But with the rules in England with the work permit, it was not possible. So that's why - or I think he would have been here.

"He played in the pre-season last season in the United States, and he was really good. I think he has the quality to play with us but he could not do that."

Asked for an assessment of Douglas Luiz's primitive Premier League career, which has already included two stunning goals in seven games, Guardiola replied: "The talent is always there.

"He has played some games - he didn't play other ones. We will see at the end of the season how his level is. But the quality was there and is there."

Another midfielder predictably on the agenda this week was Phil Foden, who shone after being handed a start in the Champions League against Atalanta but was later sent off.

Guardiola, who has repeatedly talked up the teenager despite his limited appearances, suggested only time on the training pitch can get Foden to the required level.

"It's training by training - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23," the City boss said. "Every season will be better. It's time, a process of time.

"It's not that I do that and tomorrow he will get it. It's being in the stadium, playing the minutes, sometimes you have to pass, sometimes you have to run, these decisions.

"It's time. At 23, he will be better than now. At 26, he will be better than at 23. He's an incredible work ethic guy. In the training sessions, he's a fighter, and the quality is there."

Pep Guardiola insisted nobody trusts Phil Foden more than he does after the Manchester City youngster ended an impressive Champions League display by getting sent off against Atalanta.

Foden made just his second start of the season in Tuesday's Group C meeting, impressing in midfield as City ran out 5-1 winners courtesy of Raheem Sterling's second-half hat-trick and Sergio Aguero's double.

City sensation Foden teed up Sterling's first goal but the 19-year-old's terrific performance was ended prematurely when he received two bookings in the space of six minutes late on.

When asked if Foden still needed to prove anything in order to become a more regular starter, Guardiola told a news conference: "He doesn't need to prove anything to me.

"He would not be here with us. I was the guy who said to him in the academy come here to play with us. There is nobody who trusts Phil more than me. I'm the boss, I decide [who plays].

"We thought it was a game he would have more opportunities to run, on the counter-attack. 

"Phil has these qualities to be box-to-box, at speed. That was the reason why he played, a tactical decision.

"He's a young guy, still a lot to improve. But it is important. Last season in one of the biggest games we had he played against Tottenham, he played so good and today as well.

"Every minute he plays, more experience for him for his future. He played at a high level."

Guardiola did, however, add Foden still has plenty to learn, acknowledging his frustration at the midfielder's red card.

"He will learn," Guardiola said. "Never fine for the player [to get sent off], unless it is for a stupid thing not something that is part of the game.

"He will know after one yellow card you have to be a bit more careful. There are things still where his is far away from David [Silva], far away from [Ilkay] Gundogan and far away from Kevin [De Bruyne].

"He has to live this situation with a yellow card and be careful."

There will be no punishment from Guardiola for Foden's indiscipline, though.

"Absolutely, I will not fine him. Maybe I have to pay him for how well he played," Guardiola said.

The only excuse Sergio Aguero had for clattering an uncharacteristically rash shot into the Manchester City fans behind the goal was the possibility he shared their giddy excitement.

After 24 minutes of the Champions League Group C game against Serie A entertainers Atalanta, Phil Foden had come to the party.

Slipping into a pocket of space in the right channel – the same area of the field from which he tormented the Austria defence for England Under-21s seven days ago, a passage that ended in a robust body check and a viral social media clip – Foden sauntered brilliantly around grizzled centre-back Andrea Masiello to leave a chance on a plate for Aguero.

It was silver service where there is normally Silva service in these parts. Foden is being groomed to be their heir to David Silva when the great Spanish playmaker leaves at the end of this season. Plenty of times during a riotous 5-1 win, the 19-year-old's silken touch suggested all the tools are there.

However, after providing plenty to purr at as he and Ilkay Gundogan effortlessly pulled the midfield strings during the second half came the impetuousness of youth and an avoidable red card. This denies Foden the chance to sharpen his talents in the return game next month.

It is tempting to wonder to what extent it might influence Pep Guardiola's trust, which has not always felt as forthcoming as he claims.

"Absolutely not will I fine him," the City manager replied when asked after the match whether Foden will be financially punished for his indiscretion. "Maybe I have to pay him for how well he played. The important thing for Phil is not the red card, it is the way he played."

Before being selected from kick-off against Atalanta on Tuesday, 90 of Foden's 102 competitive minutes in a City shirt this season had come in an EFL Cup tie at Preston North End.

Guardiola might call the boyhood City fan one of the most talented players he has ever seen but talk is far cheaper than the £500million price tag he would apparently not consider as a worthwhile bid for Foden.

Atalanta shaded the frenetic early stages and led through Ruslan Malinovskyi's penalty shortly after Foden's fleet of foot brought the home crowd to their feet.

Visiting boss Gian Piero Gasperini is an admirer of Guardiola and the sight of his two nimble number 10s Alejandro Gomez and Josip Ilicic squaring up to City's midfield two at centre-back – Rodri and Fernandinho – felt like something two of football's stylistic romantics might have dreamt up together.

However, Gasperini was becoming increasingly exasperated by the manner his side, who let a 3-0 lead slip to draw 3-3 at Lazio on Sunday, were neglecting the most familiar footballing trait of their homeland.

Aguero was in no mood to pass up further chances and gobbled up a floated 34th-minute delivery from Raheem Sterling, who was once again City's star performer.

Masiello, a well-worn 33-year-old central defender who looks to have been reared on boots and knees to the head along with slide tackles in gravel, was spared by Gasperini at the break. He scythed emphatically through Sterling for the penalty from which Aguero put City ahead for the first time.

The second-half became the Raheem Sterling Show, but Foden was at least co-producer alongside the immaculate Gundogan.

Raheem Sterling scored a second-half hat-trick as Manchester City moved closer to securing their progression from Champions League Group C with an emphatic 5-1 win over Atalanta.

Ruslan Malinovskiy's penalty capped a fine start for Atalanta, but the Serie A side were little match for City once Pep Guardiola's men - led by the impressive Sterling - clicked into gear.

Sergio Aguero was the benefactor of Sterling's work in the first half, tucking in from a brilliant cross before converting a penalty the England forward won.

Sterling took matters into his own hands from then on – his treble coming in the space of 11 productive minutes for City, though the emphatic win was marred by the late dismissal of Phil Foden.

Atalanta squandered a three-goal lead against Lazio in Serie A on Saturday yet were swiftly on the front foot in Manchester, taking the lead in the 28th minute. Josip Ilicic forced Fernandinho into a clumsy challenge, with Malinovskiy making no mistake from the resulting penalty.

Atalanta's opener merely sparked City into life, though, Aguero nudging home from Sterling's perfectly weighted cross and then punishing Andrea Masiello's desperate lunge by scoring from the spot.

City were soon dealt a blow as Rodri was forced off with a hamstring injury, though Kyle Walker would have extended the hosts' lead if not for Pierluigi Gollini's smart stop.

There was an injury concern for Aguero at the start of the second half but, after the striker was deemed fit to continue, Guardiola's side had their third. Kevin De Bruyne teed up Foden, whose touch fell kindly for Sterling to hammer home from close range.

He doubled his personal tally within six minutes, lashing beyond Gollini after racing onto Ilkay Gundogan's pass.

After Remo Freuler had a goal ruled out by the offside flag for Atalanta, Sterling knocked in Riyad Mahrez's cross to complete the rout, though Foden's second booking for a foul on Marten de Roon forced the hosts to play out the closing minutes with 10 men.

Phil Foden will start Manchester City's Champions League Group C match against Atalanta at the Etihad Stadium.

The England Under-21 international's only previous appearance in a first XI this season came when City beat Preston North End 3-0 in the EFL Cup last month.

Nevertheless, there has been a growing clamour for Pep Guardiola to grant more meaningful minutes to boyhood City fan Foden, 19, who came off the bench to complete the scoring in the 2-0 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb.

Foden lines up alongside Kevin De Bruyne in an attacking midfield position for the Premier League champions, with Guardiola once more leaving fit-again John Stones on the bench and selecting defensive midfield duo Rodri and Fernandinho at centre-back.

The pair contributed to a clean sheet in a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace last time out, while Kyle Walker returns from a bout of illness at right-back.

Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez bolster Guardiola's frontline, with Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus dropping to the bench alongside club captain David Silva.

In contrast to City's 100 per cent record in the round-robin stage, Serie A entertainers Atalanta are yet to pick up a point and Gian Piero Gasperini has plumped for Josip Ilicic ahead of Luis Muriel in attack, despite the Colombia international netting a brace in Sunday's dramatic 3-3 draw at Lazio.

Ilicic is likely to feature at the centre of the visitors' front line as a false nine, with Ruslan Malinovskiy keeping his place out wide.

Matthijs de Ligt could become the first player to secure the Golden Boy award twice after he was included on a 20-man shortlist for this year's prize.

The honour, established by Italian newspaper Tuttosport and awarded to the best player under the age of 21 in a European top-tier league, lists Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe among its former winners.

De Ligt claimed it in 2018 when on the books of Ajax and is among the nominees for 2019 after continuing to impress with Juventus. He was the first defender to win it.

Manchester City star Phil Foden is also in contention, alongside emerging Barcelona talent Ansu Fati, despite both having been afforded minimal game time.

More established youngsters such as Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, AC Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma and Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz are also on the list.

The winner is determined by an international online vote and will be announced in Turin on December 16. 

Full list of Golden Boy nominees: 

Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal), Erling Braut Haaland (Salzburg), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Dejan Joveljic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Moise Kean (Everton), Lee Kang-in (Valencia), Donyell Malen (PSV), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Andriy Lunin  (Real Valladolid), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Ferran Torres (Valencia), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid), Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola insists he would not consider selling midfielder Phil Foden for €500m (£460m) because he is the only player at the could who cannot be sold "under any circumstances".

Foden, 19, has long been championed as a star of the future for City and England, having been around Guardiola's first-team squad for almost three years already.

He played named player of the tournament after England's Under-17 World Cup success in 2017 and has steadily become a more prominent player in City's senior squad, playing 26 matches across all competitions last season.

The midfielder has featured for just 10 minutes in the Premier League this term, sparking suggestions he is being held back by City.

But, with David Silva set to leave the club when his contract expires next year, Guardiola is convinced Foden will take over from the former Spain international.

"He [Foden] is the only player that can’t be sold under any circumstances — the only one. Not even for €500m," Guardiola says in the new book Pep's City: The Making of a Superteam, which was written by Spanish journalists Pol Ballus and Lu Martin and is being serialised by in The Sun.

"Phil's going nowhere — Phil is City. We won't be signing anyone else for that position. When David Silva leaves, we know exactly who our new magician will be.

"He's grown up with us. He's one of us and he's going to be brilliant — one of the Premier League's best. One thing is clear, Foden has a place in City's first-team.

"I'd be interested to see if a different manager would have given him his chance to develop or loan him out.

"I don't like leaving him out of certain games, but I must think of the whole squad. Phil understands that."

Phil Foden's lack of game time at Manchester City will not dissuade youngsters from joining the Premier League champions, according to Pep Guardiola.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola has frequently spoken of his admiration for Foden, calling him "the most talented player" he has coached, but the teenager has still managed just 10 minutes as a substitute in the Premier League this season.

The 19-year-old is considered the finest player to have emerged from City's academy in recent years but, despite significant investment in their youth teams, graduates at the club have struggled for playing time due to the raft of established senior stars blocking their path.

Yet Guardiola is not worried about youngsters snubbing City for other opportunities.

"No. I don't think so," he said.

"If a guy, we seduce him – agents and players – and they want to come, they can come.

"I don't see the age [as a problem]. If the players want to come, they will come. If they don't want to come, they don't come.

"I said many times what is my opinion of Phil Foden. Everybody in this room knows my opinion of Phil Foden, so he's 18, 19 years old, plays quite enough minutes in this period.

"He will play a lot this season and the next seasons."

Guardiola, who led City to a domestic treble in 2018-19, has an enviable array of midfield talent at his disposal and has preferred to utilise Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and David Silva ahead of Foden.

While Foden appears content to bide his time having signed a new contract last year, Jadon Sancho, two months Foden's senior, sought pastures new and is now a regular with both Borussia Dortmund and England.

Guardiola admits the need to challenge for multiple trophies every year means City cannot adopted a youth-first policy, such as the one Frank Lampard has overseen at Chelsea this term.

"This team needs to win titles and prizes," Guardiola explained. "The process for the young players needs time and the best way is step by step for the players that we have.

"The demand for the club – not to win the Champions League, but to be in there all the time for all competitions, for that it needs the players that we have.

"What can I say? The talent is there and when they are talented, they will play. At the same time we have to compete every single day to fight with the best teams in England and Europe.

"For that we need David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and all these types of players. With the young, young players, you cannot win. The young players can help the other ones but the basis for the young, it's not possible."

Gareth Southgate has explained a lack of goal involvements and regular football led to the respective omissions of Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli from his latest England squad.

Lingard and Alli were two of the stars of England's run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup but have struggled for their best form of late.

The Manchester United attacker is without a goal or an assist in the Premier League in 2019, while Alli has been a relatively peripheral figure for Tottenham after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Liverpool's Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain has been similarly left out, with Southgate unable to ignore the claims of James Maddison and Mason Mount.

"I think Jesse's had a difficult period. He's aware of that," the England manager told a Wembley news conference after announcing his line-up for this month's Euro 2020 qualifying trips to the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

"I retain huge faith in Jesse because he's a player who's always played well for us, he's never let us down. His performance level for England has been excellent.

"As an attacking midfield player you are going to be judged on your goals and assists. When you look at the likes of [Raheem] Sterling and [Jadon] Sancho, those numbers are high currently.

"It's a really high bar. The competition is far greater than it was 18 months ago because we've pushed young players in early, given them opportunities and those players have flourished.

"Jesse is another player who we believe can fight his way back into the squad but, when you look at those names that we've just talked about, it shows you the competition for places that we've got."

He added: "[Oxlade-Chamberlain] is a little bit like Dele, really, where the season hasn't quite got going for either of them. But we're expecting them to challenge in the next couple of months.

"To put them in means I've got to leave someone out who's in form and is playing well – a Mason Mount or a James Maddison. They're in competition with those guys.

"Whenever you ask me who I've left out, who am I leaving out to bring them back in? It's a difficult call in those positions. I think all the players would recognise the rationale for the decisions."

Another of those left out to prompt discussion was Kyle Walker, with the Manchester City right-back overlooked in favour of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier.

"Kyle is a slightly more defensive full-back, has good qualities with the ball. The other two boys we felt did well last month and we didn't feel the decision to change would be the right one," Southgate added.

"I think he's playing well, it’s not the case that he's playing poorly. We've just got really good competition in certain positions on the field."

Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori are the headline inclusions having, along with Mount, benefitted from Frank Lampard putting faith in Chelsea's youth products.

Southgate stated Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden is "close" to a senior breakthrough but suggested the 19-year-old  - who scored against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Tuesday but only has one 10-minute appearance in the Premier League this season – realistically needs to make more frequent appearances for Pep Guardiola's side.

"It's clearly difficult to assess exactly where Phil sits compared to others, given the opportunities at his club – which I totally understand because of the quality of players he's up against," Southgate said.

"He's another player for the future. We have to be patient for his development, but that's fine.

"We think he's still progressing well, he's learning from one of the best coaches in the world and his time will come."

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