Manchester City Loan Marcos Lopes to Lille: Analysis and Reaction

Alex Gruber@agruber6Featured ColumnistJuly 8, 2014

Marcos Lopes battles through the Al Ain defense in May.
Marcos Lopes battles through the Al Ain defense in May.STR/Associated Press

Manchester City's prized youngster Marcos Lopes signed on loan with French side Lille OSC on Monday. He'll join the team for a full season after returning from the UEFA European Under-19 Championship later this month, as noted by Lille's official site (in French).

This little bit of business has a lot in store for all parties involved.

For Lille, they add one of the brightest young talents in England to help bolster their attack. Marvin Martin held down the No. 10 role for the club last season, but it looks like "Rony" might still be able to help them out:

@agruber6 mainly 442 with diamond midfield, he could be No.10 (last year weakness)

— micoucou (@mickoucou) July 8, 2014

Les Dogues have a solid goalscorer in former Chelsea man Salomon Kalou, whose 16 goals were joint-second best in Ligue 1. Nolan Roux added nine in support, but Lille look likely to lose a star in the making in Belgium's breakthrough youngster Divock Origi.

Origi's departure might not be a huge immediate blow with two capable scorers up top, but not having that dynamic young talent available might hurt, especially with European football looming. Add Lopes to the mix to add some creativity and brightness, and you've got a formidable trio.

Will Lille challenge the PSG-Monaco duopoly? Not likely, but they'll certainly provide a tough test for those two and fight with the likes of Lyon, Marseille and Saint-Etienne for third place as they did last season.

For the 18-year-old Lopes, this move gives him a good shot at getting regular first-team time at a high level.

He probably could have cracked Manuel Pellegrini's squad on a regular basis, but it's unlikely he'd receive more than the usual cup tie without a major injury ahead of him. We've seen what he can do in his cameos, and he was rewarded with a start against Al Ain in May, scoring the opener.

With his loan to France, though, he can finally experience what it is like to be with the first team on a weekly basis. The gruel of a league campaign, the thrill of a cup run and the ever-exciting prospect of European football are all in store.

He won't start every match—the 25-year-old Martin's experience ought to see him win out more often than not—but he'll certainly feature regularly. And of course, he can provide one heck of a spark off the bench, as he did when he became City's youngest-ever goalscorer a couple of years ago.

What does the Lopes move do for City? In the short term, not a whole lot, really.

With a squad as deep as they have at the Etihad, Lopes would have found it hard to feature with any frequency. He could've made his Premier League debut, but he would not have seen much more than that outside The FA Cup and League Cup.

Jon Super/Associated Press

More importantly, though, it provides City with the opportunity to get their top prospect acclimated to the idea of regular top-level competition. With the experience under his belt, City can groom him to be part of the long-term future that chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak so often speaks about.

We've seen this idea before from this club, of course. It seems like another era when John Guidetti was tearing it up in Holland, scoring 20 goals in 23 games for Feyenoord. Then that mystery virus struck and before you knew it, he was languishing on the bench at Stoke.

More than anything, that was a stroke of bad luck that was compounded by Roberto Mancini not giving him the chance to redeem himself. As long as Lopes can avoid such misfortune, his future looks a little brighter.

Of course, we also have to consider what this move does for the Elite Development Squad, which Lopes captained excellently last season.

Patrick Vieira's men enjoyed a stellar campaign, finishing fourth in the U-21 Premier League and reaching the quarterfinals of the UEFA Youth League. But now without their leader and key player, how will they fare?

In truth, there's still plenty of talent to go around. With the goalscoring duo of Jordi Hiwula and Devante Cole and a solid midfield comprised of Emyr Huws, Seko Fofana, Albert Rusnak and others, Vieira shouldn't have to worry too much.

Perhaps we'll see some of these youngsters during City's upcoming tour in the United States to give us a glimpse of what lies ahead for the club.

As it stands, Marcos Lopes' move to Lille is a plus for both clubs and the player, and his progress is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Feel free to leave your own thoughts below in the comments section or on Twitter.


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