Phil Foden names Premier League rival as toughest player he's faced

Phil Foden names a Premier League rival as the toughest player he has faced during his decorated spell at Manchester City… and he’s been playing against him since they were 8!

  • The players have squared off against one another in the league and in Europe 
  • Pair are due to come up against one another once again on Sunday afternoon 
  • Chris Sutton: ‘How my son nearly died’ – Listen to It’s All Kicking Off podcast 

Phil Foden has named a Premier League rival as the toughest player he has ever played against. 

The Manchester City starlet has faced a number of the best oppositions in world football during his decorated career for both club and country. 

On domestic duty, Man City’s success in Europe has seen him go up against the finest defenders from top clubs including Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan. 

But the academy graduate has found the greatest resistance from rivals closer to home – and Foden is due to face off with the player once again in their teams’ next Premier League match-up on Sunday. 

Chelsea captain Reece James was the player to get the nod from Foden in a recent interview ahead of the tie, with the Treble winner dubbing the right back ‘the toughest player I have played against’. 

Phil Foden has named a Premier League rival as the toughtest opponent he has faced with City

Reece James at his best is a fearsome adversaries for attackers but the Chelsea captain has struggled for full fitness over the past 18 months

The Chelsea academy graduate kept his opposite number under wraps during the 2021 Champions League final in Porto

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James and Foden have lined up against one another since their respective times in the Chelsea and City youth set-ups from the age of eight, and most recently met in the Cityzen’s 1-0 victory against the Blues in September 2021. 

When a photograph of the pair playing against one another went viral that same year, James could still remember that tie in detail. 

‘It was in a Premier League tournament when I was about 13 or 14 years old,’ he said of the clash in the photograph. ‘Every year, we’d always come up against City in the final.

‘I was still playing in midfield at the time so I was right up against him in the centre of the pitch. He was the same then as he is now – really hard to play against. He plays exactly the same but he’s just matured and got even better as a player. That’s why he’s come through at City, one of the best clubs.’

Earlier that year, Chelsea swiped Champions League glory from Pep Guardiola’s side by the same scoreline in Porto, with James amongst those playing a starring role. 

The defender’s performances in Europe during the 2020-21 season garnered another top-flight admirer, with Real Madrid naming James one of his most challenging opponents after the west London side overcame Los Blancos in their semi-final that season. 

The Brazil international also singled out Foden’s team-mate Kyle Walker for the honour. 

The pair are capable of suspending hostilities, however, and frequently feature for England

Vinicius Jnr is another top-flight forward that has high praise for the 23-year-old right back 

James is having his minutes managed as he returns from injury but started against Tottenham

But since their last September 2021, James has had little time to build up a strong run of form in blue, with the last 18 months seeing the defender stymied by injury for large swathes of the last three seasons. 

The Blues captain has missed chunks of Chelsea’s current campaign under Mauricio Pochettino after picking up a hamstring injury during their opening match against Liverpool. 

James was handed his first Premier League start of the season during the club’s chaotic 4-1 win against Tottenham, with Pochettino keen to manage the player’s minutes as he returns to full fitness. 

He is however expected to start in a similar fashion against Man City over the weekend, as Chelsea look to continue their not-unimpressive record against top-four opponents at Stamford Bridge.  


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

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