Real Madrid have emerged as serious suitors for Phil Foden – if his career stalls at Manchester City.
The Spanish giants are keeping close tabs on the young England international and have been given encouragement by the playmaker’s increasing lack of game-time at the Eithad.
The 13-time European Champions have mounted a watching brief on the young England international for several years now – but frustration at his lack of first-team starts is beginning to grow.
And belief is rising in the Spanish capital that it could be time to take advantage.
Before last night’s game against Newcastle, the 20-year-old had started just one game in the Premier League since October.
That was set against starring roles in the Champions League group games and a breakthrough at senior international level with England.
It is that deficit in exposure which is holding Foden back and fears are growing that he might have to move on to be properly appreciated, with a place on the subs’ bench in the Manchester derby a particular source of angst.
And while Madrid may be at a crossroads with boss Zinedine Zidane, their recruitment team remains on the hunt for the best young talent on the planet – and the Stockport Iniesta comes into that category.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has treated Foden with kid gloves, promoting him to play with the first-team squad almost as soon as he was installed in charge four years ago.
He has nurtured the prodigy carefully and spoke in glowing terms of Foden ahead of last night’s game with Newcastle.
“We love this guy,” said the Catalan, “he has everything to be really special.
“I want the best for him and if he has the desire to do it, then he will get there for sure.”
But actions speak louder than words and until Guardiola begins to back Foden with more starts, rumours will continue to circulate that one of the most special talents in English football could be open to a move.