By the time that Rony Lopes’ 22nd birthday rolls around three days after Christmas, the chances are that the young Monaco star will have amassed 100 senior appearances.
By the time he was 16, he had been snapped up by Manchester City, where he debuted as a 17-year-old, playing one of only five matches for the Citizens as a late replacement for David Silva in an FA Cup tie against Watford. Nevertheless, he found time to make history by netting, thereby becoming the club’s youngest ever scorer.
After a year in France with Lille on loan, he was signed by Monaco for €12 million, and though he would subsequently move back to LOSC for two more years, the long-term strategy of the principality side was always to integrate him in their starting XI.
It may have taken a couple of years, but Lopes is now a regular for the Ligue 1 champions, stepping into the shoes of countryman Bernardo Silva, who fittingly moved to City in the summer for a fee of €50 million.
The approach was one that the player, who has always thought of his long-term development, bought into.
“The project they presented was based on young players who had a big margin to grow up and improve. The coach was Portuguese and some friends of mine were already there, such as Bernardo Silva,” he told the Manchester Evening News earlier this year.
Having nurtured his compatriot successfully, Monaco wish to do that same with Lopes, and the signs are that his game is progressing in the correct manner.
“He’s a player with enormous potential who will progress at the right club and with a good coach,” former City reserve team boss Patrick Vieira said. “He’s crazy about football and able to spend hours on the field. He’s a real worker.”
The fruits of the youngster’s labour are starting to show.
One of only two players in the squad to have featured in all of the club’s first 13 Ligue 1 games of the season, he has filled the void on the right of midfield that Bernardo left when he moved to England, although the player has admitted in the past that he holds a preference to play a more central position, as a playmaker or a second striker.
It is one he grew used to while in Lille, helping him to develop the physical attributes of his game and build the kind of stamina that has seen him work tirelessly up and down the flank for the Stade Louis II side throughout this season.
He may be nicknamed ‘Rony’ after the great Brazilian Ronaldo – a result of wearing a top bearing his name to training at his first club Poiares – but he is not blessed with the raw power and pace of his idol.
Instead, like Bernardo, he is a technical winger who is most at home crafting opportunities for his team-mates.
Only Joao Moutinho and Thomas Lemar have created more chances in Ligue 1 for the Monegasques, while his tally of four assists is a joint club-leading figure along with his compatriot.
Indeed, when goals and assists are combined, only Radamel Falcao, who has been red hot, has been more decisive for Leonardo Jardim’s side this season.
And what is particularly encouraging for Monaco is that their momentum is building. Prior to the weekend’s shock 1-1 draw against Amiens, which can be attributed to fatigue coming off the international break, they had won three of their previous four matches.
It was no coincidence that Lopes was to the fore and impressive during this run.
Last week, he took the next big step in his career when he made his international debut for Portugal against the USA in a friendly, though had it not been for an ill-timed injury he may have been part of the victorious Euro 2016 squad.
Nevertheless, having turned out for Portugal at every age group since Under-16, he has his sights firmly set on the World Cup. If he continues his eye-catching form for Monaco, there is no reason to think that he will not be in Russia next summer with his great friend Bernardo.