Pep Guardiola says Rico Lewis is best I have ever trained. Of course that is quite a statement by the Manchester City manager who’s training a wide range of incredible soccer players during his managerial career.
However, if you watch Rico Lewis play, you can see why Guardiola gives him that kind of praise. Lewis, with his mop of Sideshow Bob like hair atop his head, is constantly moving on the soccer pitch. Constantly getting the soccer ball and playing it. Finding space and asking for the ball. Lewis has quite an engine in him, enabling him to get forward and back if needed.
Specifically, I think what Guardiola likes about Lewis besides his tirelessness, is his ability to find pockets of space and play between the two lines – defends and attack.
There are a lot of supremely talented footballers who are very young in world football right now. With football players like Gavi, Saka, Pedri, and Bellingham all around twenty years old. Then there’s Yamal Lamine over at Barcelona who’s just sixteen! For Manchester City, they have an 18 year old who could be a star in Lewis. Guardiola sees that. Lewis might not be as dynamic or skillful as a Saka, but just as valuable to a team in many ways.
Overall, Rico Lewis is one of those youngsters with great potential. Along with his constant movement and finding the ball, he likes to turn and go at the defense. Which is a talent that not many soccer players possess and defenses hate and I’m sure Guardiola loves. Besides, a lot of players are afraid of making mistake and that’s why they don’t attack with the ball as much. Lewis is unafraid when he has the ball at his feet.
Here is exactly what Pep Guardiola said about Rico Lewis after the RB Leipzig Champions League game which Lewis started via TNT Sports.
“He played good, huh? What a player. What a player – 18-years-old. I’ve been a manager for 14-15 year, training unbelievable players. To find a player like him in the pockets, how he has to move, moving into the spaces, he’s one of the best I’ve ever trained, by far.”
“He’s an amazing, outstanding player – outstanding,” Guardiola added to TNT Sports. “Just 18-year-old, has a huge personality, can play in four or five positions. He’s not scared, his defending is really good. Maybe he needs a little bit more [height] – because Mum and Dad didn’t give the genetics to be taller! Apart from that he has everything. Fantastic, fantastic player.”
A rematch of last year’s knockouts has reigning champions Manchester City facing RB Leipzig in a matchup of two teams who cruised through match day one. In this football match you can see why Pep Guardiola praised Rico Lewis. At the start, Lewis nearly spins and scores and later sets up Phil Foden for a goal.
Moreover, Lewis is constantly feeding Erling Haaland the soccer ball in good spots. There was one moment Haaland maybe could have played the ball back to Lewis instead of shooting himself.
Phil Foden said this about his teammate Rico Lewis:
“Lewis did brilliant to pull it back to me. Two Academy boys linking up, it’s nice to see,” he said. “He’s the one who changes the tempo for us when we need it. Lewis is sharp in the midfield and he breaks the lines. He’s a great talent to have. He made us play better today for sure.”
From Football Talent Scout here are the stats for Rico Lewis versus Leipzig. I’m sure Pep Guardiola like these stats and especially the 5 key passes.
94% pass accuracy
5 key passes
2/2 accurate long balls
5/5 duels won
Remember, Rico Lewis is just 18 years of old. He is only going to get better. Plus, Lewis is not just a defender or a midfielder, but a player who covers nearly the whole field. Before in football you might have a creative midfielder or a defensive midfielder, Lewis can fill both those roles for Manchester City.
Finally, here is Lewis talking about finding those pockets of space between the lines. Furthermore, part of Guardiola’s strategy in the game was for players to find Lewis in those pockets of space between the lines.