On Tuesday afternoon, Ligue 1 side Lille released a statement on their official website confirming that current coach René Girard would leave the club at the end of the campaign. Moments later, the stories grew that Hervé Renard – two-time Africa Cup of Nations winner – would be the likely replacement.
French newspaper L’Equipe, not missing a beat, were already speculating who Renard was targeting for next season. One player towards the top of the list is Marcos “Rony” Lopes. The Portuguese under-20 international has just spent the season on loan from Manchester City, but Lille are very keen on bringing him back for a second campaign.
Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Marseille was not only Lille’s last home game of the season, but it was Lopes’ last official game as part of the LOSC squad. He will miss the final game on Saturday as he has to leave for the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
One problem in Lille being able to lure Lopes back to France next season is his contract. His current deal runs out in 2016, meaning he could leave on loan for 12 months and never return to Manchester City. The club are not keen on that, and would prefer the 19-year-old to sign a new deal before any further loan agreement was discussed.
Agent Mikkel Beck – former Middlesbrough and Lille striker – is apparently in talks with both sides, and the player seems happy to spend another season in France before trying to break into the Manchester City first-team.
Hampered by a couple of thigh injuries, Lopes has still impressed this season and has been more influential than his three goals and two assists suggest.
He is not quite ready for the step up to the Premier League just yet, but it is better than playing in the Under 21 league. Another 12 months in Lille makes perfect sense, continuing his development under Renard could be an excellent fit and one that would greatly benefit City in the long-term.