Jim Cassell spotted Foden, 18, when he was City's head of youth development, drawing parallels between the teenager and Messi for his physical attributes and style of play, per the Daily Mail's Ian Ladyman:
"Philip was a unique talent at six. He was a natural, Messi-like the way he covered the ground. He had low gravity, in and out of things.
"I look at him now and think, 'Come on Philip.' We are just waiting for the next growth thing. After that he will fly. City haven't seen a fraction yet of what he has.
"Once he grows again and goes on a run he will be going past three or four players with the ball. Like he did as a kid, just like Messi. He will be in an England squad in 18 months for certain."
Foden made 10 appearances for City last season (five in the Premier League) but has already doubled that number in what's been a breakthrough 2018-19 campaign, during which he's netted six goals.
The starlet is yet to score in England's top flight but has bagged goals in the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and the Carabao Cup this term.
Former Premier League defender Michael Gray recently appeared on TalkSport and argued the City prodigy should have joined Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi, also 18, in the most recent England squad:
Cassell, 71, was removed from his role as City's youth chief not long after the clubw ere taken over in 2008, which was also the last year in which the club lifted the FA Youth Cup.
He played a hand in promoting the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Kieran Trippier and Kasper Schmeichel, each of whom are playing Premier League football.
Foden is only at the beginning of his career but is already earning widespread plaudits in England and is expected to earn his first senior international cap in the foreseeable future.
City boss Pep Guardiola is the only man with experience coaching both him and Messi, but the Catalan was keen to limit the expectations on his charge, via Goal's Sam Lee:
Sam Lee @Sammy_Goal
Would it be a shame if Foden does not play for England at Euro 2020? Guardiola: "maybe that would be a good decision". Plus more, including: "He's an incredible talent but he still has a lot of things to improve. It's simple for his age." (NB Foden's 18 not 19, as stated) https://t.co/OK50IB9YG0
He's quick even with the ball at his feet, has a pragmatic head and has the potential to switch pace at a moment's notice.
Guardiola has been an admirer of the club's academy product, and all signs suggest Stockport native Foden will be handed increased responsibilities next season.
For all the money City have spent on players in recent years, Foden could grow to become the club's most profitable recruit if he lives up to Cassell's expectations.