Rony Lopes made his debut for Manchester City just over five years ago.
With just a few minutes on the pitch against Watford, Lopes managed to find the back of the net and round off a 3-0 win.
He’d only just turned 17 years of age and became the club’s youngest ever goalscorer. More good cameos followed and Lopes made himself a firm favourite among Manchester City supporters, and they had great hopes for his future.
It didn’t go entirely to plan and after a loan to Lille, Lopes moved to AS Monaco permanently in 2015. Another loan to Lille followed but now, still at just 22 years of age, Lopes is enjoying a breakthrough season at Monaco.
Playing in several different positions this season, across the attacking midfield areas, the former Manchester City player is establishing himself with the French club. Going to the World Cup with Portugal is a realistic aim, but Lopes has big plans for the longer term too.
Speaking to Portuguese newspaper O Jogo, the youngster revealed he fancies a comeback: “I’d like to return to England, the Premier League is one of the championships that I admire most, one of the best in the world. A great English club would be very good. It’s something that can happen in the future.”
So where would Lopes like to go? Well, in an interview last year he made it pretty clear: “I was very happy in England, I learned how to play a new football and the big learning I had is that who works ends up being rewarded. But everything has an end, it’s part of life.
“My younger brother is still studying in England and my mother lives with him. I’d like to play in the Premier League again, preferably at City because the fans already know me.”
O Jogo believe it’s a realistic aim for Lopes and that he can take heart knowing Bernardo Silva made the move to the Etihad from Monaco, and with Pep Guardiola’s side linked with offers players in the French principality, it’s a sure sign Manchester City are watching.
Lopes still has family living in Manchester, and told the Portuguese newspaper: “At this point I live here in Monaco with my father, but my mother stayed in Manchester with my brother who is studying there while my sister lives in Portugal. The family is now much more divided, but whenever it’s possible we’re all together.”
But there’s one sure thing AS Monaco has as an advantage over Manchester City: “The weather here is a lot better. In Manchester there was cold and rain almost all the time. So it was very easy to adapt to living in Monaco [laughs]. It was cold in Lille too, here I cannot complain. I use my leisure time to stroll, to walk by the sea. Monaco is small, but in good weather it’s magnificent.”