It may have been the usual suspects – Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero – who scored Manchester City’s goals in their 3-0 victory over West Ham United on Tuesday evening, but it was another player in Blue who generated the headlines.
Marcos Lopes slipped into the City line-up as if he had been playing there for years, with a confidence that belied his 18 years and a talent that was clear for all to see.
Speaking after the match, manager Manuel Pellegrini said the player was very important for the future of the club, while fans took to social media to hail him as a better prospect than Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj.
Both are 18, both have innate talent and confidence aplenty, and both are set for superstardom, but one has a distinct advantage over the other.
While Lopes has had to make do with appearances in the League Cup, Januzaj has been thrust head-first into United’s faltering campaign, and in so doing has become their shining light.
While others have stumbled he has, at times, singlehandedly pulled them through, and that experience cannot be underestimated.
He may be a teenager with less than a season under his belt, but Januzaj is now a vital part of United’s starting XI. Whether that is right or wrong he is there, performing week-in-week-out, constantly learning and improving, while Lopes has to wait for his more sporadic moments to shine.
He took one of those against West Ham, playing with huge confidence throughout and running at the Hammers’ back-line as if he was enjoying a training exercise. But he will soon be back to the under-21 Premier League to continue his development, while Januzaj has long-since left that behind.
If players learn through experience, Lopes will have done so just by taking to the field last night. But Januzaj has the edge on him for now, with the numerous lessons he has already learnt since the brace against Sunderland that announced him to the world.
image: © joncandy