Have you heard about Rony Lopes?
The 22-year-old Brazil-born Portugal international – whose full name is Marcos Paulo Mesquita Lopes – is Ligue 1’s top goal-scorer this calendar year, having netted ten goals in 12 league games in 2018.
Hmm, I definitely recognise that name from somewhere, y’know?
I’m not overly surprised, as he played at youth-level for Benfica before signing for Man City when he was 15.
He made his competitive debut for City in 2013, coming off the bench for David Silva in a FA Cup game against Watford and even scored the third in a 3-0 win, making him the club’s youngest ever goalscorer at 17 years and 9 days.
That’s amazing! What happened to him next?
Did absolute bits for City’s development team and duly won the Academy Player of the Year award in 2013. He also started in a League Cup semi-final win over West Ham, assisting both Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo in a 3-0 win.
But he didn’t make it at City?
Sadly not. He was certainly talented enough and well-liked at the club, but wasn’t quite getting the game time he wanted.
And now he’s at Monaco?
Right you are, joining Leonardo Jardim’s side in 2015 for £9 million. He spent last season on loan at Lille – so wasn’t part of the Ligue 1 winning side – before breaking into the first-team this term.
He’s doing alright this season?
He most certainly is.
With Monaco’s mass-exodus over the summer, Lopes found himself a regular place in the side. And not only that, he’s second only to Radamael Falcao for goals at the club this term.
What about at international level?
Despite being born in Brazil, Lopes opted to represent Portugal and played at every youth level before turning out for the senior side back in November in a friendly against the United States.
He’s an outsider for a place at the World Cup, but could force his way into the fold if he continues his impressive run for Monaco.
So he’s the ‘next Bernardo Silva’, then?
Yikes, don’t let Monaco fans hear you saying that.
It’s true that he’s young, Portuguese and making a name for himself at Monaco. What’s more, he’s spoken openly about his compatriot at City.
Last month, he said: “I’m happy for Bernardo, he’s a friend and seeing what he’s been doing in recent games with Manchester City is a very good thing.”
Could he return to the Etihad one day?
Never say never.
He clearly loves the club, having basically grown up there, and give him a few years and he may well be regarded as one who got away.