Manchester City fans may have been concerned that the club didn’t possess a natural heir to Kyle Walker, but Rico Lewis’ performances this season show that he can be the ideal man to step up as the England international’s long-term replacement at the Etihad Stadium.
His recovery pace has always been his strongest attribute, but with the right-back set to turn 33 next year, Pep Guardiola may already be thinking about who can replace Walker once he eventually leaves the Etihad.
Joao Cancelo, who has been moved over to left-back in recent campaigns, would perhaps be the most obvious replacement. However, his performances have been so impressive on the left flank that it would almost be a shame for Guardiola to feel a compulsion to revert him back to the other wing.
In Walker’s recent injury absence, the City manager has turned to 18-year-old Lewis, with the academy talent already boasting seven first-team appearances for his club, which includes a goal in the Champions League this season.
He was trusted to start in City’s first game back against Liverpool in midweek and produced another strong display as they progressed to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals with a 3-2 win against Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The teenage defender earned a 6.5 rating from Sofascore, registering 90 touches of the ball and completing 62 passes, which shows that he is confident enough to demand the ball and doesn’t look out of place at all in a Guardiola team.
The former Barcelona boss was full of praise for Lewis following Thursday night’s victory, suggesting that the 18-year-old will be a “magnificent player” for City for the next decade.
Guardiola clearly believes in the young right-back and it seems as if there will be plenty more first-team opportunities for Lewis over the next couple of years, so if he continues to impress, there seems no reason why he can’t be the man to replace Walker in City’s first-team when the latter eventually moves on.