Youngster Marcos Lopes scored a hat-trick in City's 6-0 thumping of Bayern's academy team in the UEFA Youth League, with the teenager looking remarkably like a young Diego Maradona.
Brazilian-born but raised in Portugal, the 17-year-old Lopes – who moved to Manchester from Benfica’s schoolboy side two years ago – is yet to feature in the league for City's first team.
But he scored on his first-team debut in a FA Cup match against Watford last season, and has been the best player so far this campaign in England and Europe’s premier youth competitions.
After winning City’s fan-voted academy player of the year award, he was given the captaincy for their youth team squad this season and has been in scintillating form, also scoring twice against Viktoria Plzen in their opening match in the youth equivalent to the Champions League.
Lopes has hit seven goals in six matches for Portugal’s U19s, and a glance at this video of his Bayern demolition shows a player with pace, balance, an eye for goal and terrific close control.
The first is a quite remarkable solo run before he picks out Devante Cole on the right wing; Cole plays a low ball across that Lopes finishes first time. His second is a calmly taken half-volley after an excellent first touch to kill a cross from the left wing. He completes his hat-trick with a calmly taken penalty to prove he has it all.
This scouting clip compiled by a fan shows some more of his antics, giving you an idea about his full repertoire of skills. At 5’9” he is not the tallest, but Lopes has remarkable body strength, reminiscent of former City star Carlos Tevez.
But unlike Tevez he plays a deeper, freer role, and his main attribute appears to be running rings around the opposition before blasting the ball into the back of the net.
The only thing standing in his way is City’s embarrassment of riches in the attacking midfield positions, with David Silva, Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri and James Milner all ploughing the furrows he would occupy. Perhaps he could be taught the withdrawn striker role played by Sergio Aguero, with Stevan Jovetic unconvincing so far?
More likely is that he spends the remainder of the season in City’s youth team, making occasional appearances in the cups and from the bench, before going out on loan next year.
Either way we cannot wait to see him light up the professional game sooner rather than later – and with Patrick Vieira doing some sterling work with City’s Elite Development Squad, he may well end up as one of football’s global superstars.
Other teenagers we predict will become Premier League stars
Adnan Januzaj (18, Manchester United): The Belgian playmaker has been the talk of the town this campaign after impressing in pre-season, but United need to tie him down to a contract to avoid losing him to a team like Juventus, in the style of Paul Pogba.
Souleymane Coulibaly (18, Tottenham Hotspur): The speedy Ivorian striker scored nine goals in four matches at the 2011 U17 World Cup. Yet to make his first-team debut for Spurs but scored twice in 12 games last season on loan at Grossetto in Serie B.
Devante Cole (18, Manchester City): A team-mate of Lopes, Cole scored a wonder-goal in the demolition of Bayern. Tall, quick, strong and with the ability to turn opponents for fun, Cole has great pedigree – his father is none other than former City and United star Andy Cole. Appears a more technical player than his father, but can he fulfil his potential?
Serge Gnabry (18, Arsenal): After making a few promising cameos as a 17-year-old last season, German winger Gnabry was given a first-team role after Theo Walcott was injured and shone against Swansea last weekend. The tricky wide-man has a powerful shot and a German directness to go with his pace. Could go very far.
Isaiah Brown (16, Chelsea): Brown famously said he’d do his homework on the bus after being poached by Chelsea from West Brom’s academy this summer. A rangy midfielder-forward with better technique than your average English player, he is highly-regarded by both clubs. Either he’ll set the world alight or fizzle out into the lower leagues.
Do you have any tips for stars of the future from your team’s youth side? Let us know by leaving a comment below.