Chelsea legend Ashley Cole has said that Manchester City teenager Rico Lewis' versatility is an attribute he didn't have at the same age. The 18-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season at the Etihad.
Lewis has featured 18 times across competitions, scoring once. He impressed in City's 6-0 demolition of EFL Championship side Burnley in the FA Cup quarterfinals on Saturday (March 18). The versatile defender played in an unfamiliar defensive midfield position but didn't look out of place, making three tackles and one clearance.
Manchester City blitzed the Clarets away, thanks to an Erling Haaland hat-trick, Julian Alvarez's brace and a Cole Palmer strike. Lewis went into the game after earning a call-up to England's U21s.
Former Chelsea left-back Cole is a coach for England's youth team. He took the time to praise the City starlet, telling The Sun:
"Rico is showing his importance at such a young age of being adaptable. He can play right-back, centre-back, even being small, left-back. He’s come through a Man City group with Pep’s ideas of, ‘this is how we want to play’, being brave in what they do. He’s adapted so well, and you see the growth he’s had."
Cole continued by saying that Lewis has shown versatility at an age when he didn't:
"I certainly couldn’t do that at that age, to be that game-aware but do it with high quality and concentration."
Lewis' meteoric rise this season has been vital for the Cityzens as they need depth. Full-back Joao Cancelo fell out of favour with Pep Guardiola and headed to Bayern Munich on loan in January. Lewis has flourished in any role his manager has tasked him with.
Chelsea and Manchester City in race to sign Romeo Lavia
Romeo Lavia is quickly becoming one of the Premier League's most sought-after teenage midfielders. The 19-year-old has made 24 appearances across competitions for the Saints this season, scoring one goal and providing one assist.
According to Football Insider, Manchester City are well placed to sign Lavia, who left the Etihad for St Mary's last summer for £12 million. However, the Cityzens face hefty competition from their big-six rivals Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.
City have a £40 million buy-back clause for the Belgian midfielder, but it doesn't become active till the summer of 2024. Chelsea are on the lookout for a new No.6 following Jorginho's departure to Arsenal in January. Lavia may just be one to keep an eye on in the summer.