January 5th, 2013 was the day Manchester City fans got their first real glimpse of young Portuguese talent Marcos Lopes. The winger came on as a substitute on the 88th minute of The Blues’ FA Cup clash with Watford for his debut in the sky blue shirt. Within moments, he had netted his first for the club. Mario Balotelli, weeks before his return to Italy, took a long-range shot, which was parried by John Bond into the path of the 17-year-old. It was a simple finish for the sub, but it spoke volumes about his future.
Since that day, there has been a constant buzz surrounding the young winger, with many Blues believing he is set to become a star with the Manchester side. Signed from Benfica in the summer of 2012, he was immediately ear-marked by the staff as someone who wouldn’t look out of place training with senior stars such as Sergio Agüero or Vincent Kompany. This praise came whilst the boy was still only 16 years of age - big words indeed.
Whilst that chance to shine may never have really come - the youngster was granted no more playing time under Roberto Mancini, who departed from the Etihad at the end of the season having won no silverware - under Manuel Pellegrini and Rubén Cousillas, the Brazil-born player has been highly-regarded by the non-playing staff and on the terraces. Brian Kidd being retained from the previous crop of management staff, who was the man who originally sung the praises of the youngster back when he was signed, certainly helps, as it means Lopes’ potential does not go amiss.
Since his debut on January 2013, Marcos Lopes has gone on to make three more appearances in this season’s Capital One Cup, helping his team to the final - a final which will be played at Wembley this weekend. He has also made numerous appearances on the bench in all competitions, but has yet to appear in the league, despite calls from many sections of the City support. There is a general feeling, however, that it is merely a matter of time.
All this is highlighted on a day when the young talent has been called up to represent his country at under-21 level. Lopes is eligible for both Brazil and Portugal, where he moved to at the age of 4. He opted for the Europeans, and has appeared at both the under-17 and under-19 level already. Now he has received a call-up to the most senior youth side in the Portuguese international setup, and it shows just how far he has come from being that unknown 16-year-old lad on the Manchester City bench little over a year ago.
There is a real genuine buzz surrounding the young talent that is Marcos Lopes; so much so, that fans of other teams are realizing how good he is. In an age where big spending is commonplace and youth rarely gets a chance, especially at large clubs, it is fantastic to see a young player being so highly regarded by all.
After having become City’s youngest ever scorer, and then winning the club’s first ever Academy Player of the Year award, he has already started to break records. He captains the Patrick Vieria’s Elite Development Squad already, despite having only been in it for half a season, and has sent shock-waves with his exhilarating performances in the UEFA Youth League, with a hat-trick in a 6-0 thrashing of Bayern Munich’s youth side. Football is unpredictable as everyone knows, but this boy is set for an extremely bright future.