The next Rio Ferdinand? Chelsea starlet Ampadu likened to Man Utd legend

Clive Rose
Chris Coleman handed the teenager his senior Wales debut against France and is tipping the versatile youngster to follow in illustrious footsteps

Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu boasts the potential and versatility to become the next Rio Ferdinand, according to Chris Coleman.

The Wales manager handed the highly-rated 17-year-old his senior international debut in a friendly date with France on Friday.

Ampadu has progressed to this point as a holding midfielder, with Antonio Conte having handed him two Carabao Cup outings for the reigning Premier League champions this season.

Developing in his preferred position would appear to be the plan heading forward, but Coleman believes that – like Manchester United and England legend Ferdinand before him – the youngster could thrive if he slips back into a centre-half spot.

He told reporters after a 2-0 defeat for Wales at Stade de France on an exciting prospect: "He's capable of playing both [positions].

Ethan Ampadu Chris Coleman Chelsea next Rio Ferdinand

"His frame, athleticism, and understanding of the game, he's a great communicator for someone so young. So at the moment it's a tough one to call.

"He could end up playing holding midfielder or as a centre-back.

"He's got a long way to go before you can liken him to someone like Rio Ferdinand but I remember him coming on at West Ham in midfield, he gravitated into a centre-back.

"Probably, in the last 20 years, Rio has been the best centre-back in the Premier League.

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"Your modern day centre-backs start play and you need to be confident in possession. He's [Ampadu] a good communicator and a good all-round player."

Ampadu made his senior breakthrough at Exeter before joining Chelsea in July.

He made his bow for the Blues in a League Cup clash with Nottingham Forest, becoming in the process the first player born in the 21st century to represent the west London heavyweights.