Carlos Borges – Manchester City’s rising Portuguese talent

Rahul Madhavan
By Rahul Madhavan
8 Min Read

A decade ago, Manchester City took a different route to youth football that has paid massive dividends in the past few seasons. The new owners invested plenty to improve the infrastructure but, more importantly, laid their plans to develop young players at the newly named City Football Academy, or CFA as it’s called. The likes of Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho represent a fresh wave of players from the CFA and combined with their success in the youth categories, Man City will undoubtedly continue producing talents.

We have already seen 17-year-old Rico Lewis make his mark in the first team this season with a goal in his Champions League debut against Sevilla. Following him in the ranks is Carlos Borges, a winger by trade, who is drawing notice due to his outstanding displays in the UEFA Youth League and Premier League 2 games.

He is yet to make his debut for the first team, but it is only a matter of time before Pep Guardiola considers him. Borges is making a name for himself in youth football, so let’s take a look at why he is considered one of the best talents Manchester City has produced in recent years.

History and Background

Carlos Borges was born and brought up in the Sintra Municipality in Portugal and started his footballing journey at the age of 7 at NADC Sintra. After three years in his hometown club, Borges moved to one of Portuguese football’s biggest teams – Sporting CP. However, his stay in the capital city was short-lived as he moved to Manchester City just a year after joining Sporting.

Borges arrived in England in 2015 at the age of 10, when Manchester City’s CFA just came to fruition. He quickly settled in Manchester and progressed through the junior age categories before making his debut for the Manchester City under-18s in 2020. The youngster who was just 16 at that time became an important figure in the team that eventually won the league by one point on the penultimate day of the season. Borges was also awarded the under-18 Manchester City player of the year for a remarkable season.

He then took the next step in his career as Man City Elite Development Squad (EDS) manager – Brian Barry Murphy called him up to the PL 2 squad in 2021. Borges made his debut for the EDS team in the UEFA Youth League match against RB Leipzig and scored the winner as well. Nevertheless, he continued to progress in the under-18s in 2021, before becoming a regular in the EDS squad this season. The 18-year-old is representing Portugal in the junior categories and is currently a key player in the under-19 side.

Player profile and strengths

Carlos Borges is a left-footed player who is comfortable operating in the wide areas on either side of the pitch. He possesses excellent pace, and physicality and is extremely skillful on the ball. At Manchester City, he is predominantly used from the left side where his quick burst of acceleration is useful from his strong side. Moreover, he was even used as a left-back in his younger days and is also occasionally employed at right-wing under Brian Barry Murphy.

The Portuguese has been on fire this season, scoring 16 goals and assisting 9 in just 17 games. Of those 25 goals involvements, 9 (4 goals and 5 assists) have been in the UEFA Youth League, 12 (8 goals, 4 assists) have come in the Premier League 2 games, while 4 have been in the Papa John’s Trophy including a hat-trick against Derby County. Further, he has already scored 3 hat-tricks so far, with his four goals against fierce rivals Manchester United gathering the headlines.

Like Guardiola’s wingers, Borges stays wide on the touchline and there is no stopping him once he is isolated against the fullback. He uses his pace and low center of gravity to breeze past opponents. One could relate him to Leroy Sane under Pep Guardiola, where the German’s acceleration and trickery were almost always too hot to handle for the fullbacks.

Borges has also formed a notable connection with attacking midfielder Oscar Bobb and winger Adedire Mebude. Bobb has been a part of Manchester City’s EDS side for over two years and has taken over the role of James McAtee as the creative hub of the team.

Oscar Bobb assisting Carlos Borges against Manchester United

Additionally, the two are also quick to play give and go’s and create space for each other. Borges’ pace certainly causes problems for the opponents, and they link up well when they face a strong defensive block.

Borges’ runs in behind the defense in the wide areas have been a key outlet for the Man City EDS team. Furthermore, his positioning in the box to get to the end of the crosses is also one of his strong attributes. He usually arrives in the 6-yard-area to tap in Mebude’s cross from the right side. Manchester City fans would likely say that it reminds them of the Sane-Sterling combination when they won the Premier League with a record 100 points.

Strong, technical, skillful with brilliant pace and scoring goals consistently is a combination that many youngsters dream of. Due to his performances with the EDS side, he was called by Pep Guardiola to train with the first team ahead of their Champions League tie with Sevilla. Although he was not named in the squad, it is a sign that the Man City hierarchy rates him highly and are closely monitoring his development. Borges seems to be at a high level already and is undoubtedly destined to play first-team football for Europe’s top clubs if he continues to develop his attributes. He is clearly a talent to keep an eye on.


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