Marcos Lopes is the name on everyone’s lips this morning, after his impressive showing for Manchester City in the second-leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against West Ham United.
And while he has plenty to do to gain a regular starting berth alongside such experienced (and expensive) talent, the 18-year-old attacking midfielder showed enough in one game to suggest he is a star of the future.
Another player was held in similarly high-regard when he arrived at Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2007.
Nani was 20 when he arrived at Old Trafford, and aside from a brief spell in 2010 when it finally appeared to have clicked, and he put in some outstanding performances against Arsenal and Manchester City among others, things just have not worked out as either he or plenty of observers had thought.
Nani is a player who appears to not fully understand or optimise his considerable talent. On his day, he is unplayable, but those days are now few and far between.
Now 27, injury has curtailed Nani’s season, and reports continue that he could soon be joining Anderson in Italy – with the stories linking him with Juventus refusing to go away.
But given Lopes’s emergence and Nani’s stagnation, could the City player cause a major shock this summer by taking the current United’s man’s place in the Portuguese national squad?
It may be something of a leftfield suggestion, but Lopes showed against West Ham that he is both confident and talented enough to perform alongside some of Europe’s finest, so what chance him given the chance to perform on the biggest stage of them all.
Would Nani automatically get the nod simply because of his experience, despite his erratic form? Or could Lopes – potentially riding the crest of a wave come May – be given a shot?
After all, stranger things have happened in football.
image: © Jason Bagley