Premier League fans will have one eye on Lille OSC this season due to Liverpool’s capture of striker Divock Origi, but Manchester City fans should also pay attention as one of their young stars, Marco Lopes, is spending the year on loan at the French club. He made a cameo appearance in both their league games so far, and could get his first start on Saturday evening.
Otherwise known as Rony, the young 18-year-old has been brought on season-long loan spell to try and add some creativity to the Lille midfield and it is something which the side has been seriously lacking for the past 12 months.
Marvin Martin was signed from Sochaux for €9 million to be the creative force for Lille, but it hasn’t quite worked out for Les Dogues. Martin got 17 assists in his last season for Sochaux, but on seven in two seasons for Lille.
Coach René Girard has said that Lopes could become Lille’s own version of Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez, after the Colombian impressed in his first season in Ligue 1. This weekend’s game against Lorient could be Rony’s first chance to shine at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
Lille started the season playing 4-3-3 with Martin suspended, then when he was available Girard changed back to 4-3-1-2 with the midfielder playing in the No.10 role. With Martin now injured the chance is there for Lopes to start as the playmaker and make an impact for the side.
There is no doubt the play-maker is very talented and has great potential, although some have questioned his ability and work rate when he doesn’t have the ball. The secret for Lille will be to give Lopes the ball as much as possible and give him the chance to impress.
Lille have still to score a goal from open play, and the penalty against Caen was undeserved and was a fair tackle from the Caen defender. After the 1-0 home loss to Porto and the pending second leg on Tuesday, Girard is ready to give some substitutes a chance to shine.
It has been a bit grim up north so far in the early days of Lille’s season, but City’s Lopes could be the spark that kick starts Les Dogues season.