Former Manchester City midfielder and Northern Ireland international Neil Lennon believes Pep Guardiola has a potential “top-class player” on his hands in Shea Charles.
The 19-year-old Mancunian has already featured in a matchday squad for City this season, such is Guardiola’s recognition of the midfielder’s precocious skill-set, and Lennon believes he has all the tools to make it at the highest peak of the game.
He was a surprise inclusion in the 22-man squad that Guardiola took out to Saxony for City’s 1-1 draw against RB Leipzig in the Champions League last month. And the expectation is that he will start to appear more frequently on the bench.
The Catalan coach certainly hasn’t shown an aversion to blooding in young talent, with the likes of Phil Foden, Cole Palmer and Rico Lewis rising to prominence under the City boss, and fans will now be hoping Charles can follow a similar trajectory.
He certainly fits the archetype of a typical Guardiola player, with the defensive midfielder able to operate as a No. 6, or across the backline, either in central defence or at right-back. That sort of versatility would allow him to easily marinate in Guardiola’s malleable tactical outlook.
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Already capped four times by Northern Ireland, having featured prominently in the youth ranks, Charles appears to have a maturity that belies his still tender years, and Lennon believes the Green and White Army can be really excited about the prospect of his emergence.
Speaking exclusively to Squawka (on behalf of BoyleSports), Lennon said: “I am very good friends with Tommy Johnson [Northern Ireland assistant manager], and when I met up with him over Christmas he was raving about this kid, saying he has everything — and he’s a welcome addition to the Northern Ireland squad.
“It’s difficult to find these players to come and play for Northern Ireland, and they think he is really going to develop into a top-class player.
“I’ll be watching his progress very carefully.”