The Burkina Faso right-back is currently on loan at Troyes but he has boosted his hopes of forcing his way into Pep Guardiolas squad for next season

Manchester City were preparing for a Champions League clash with Real Madrid when they signed Issa Kabore from Mechelen, so the deal went largely unnoticed in the press.

The right-back didnt even travel to England to complete the deal because of the restrictions in place at the time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So, he actually put pen to paper on a five-year contract while still in Belgium.

Under the terms of the deal, Kabore, who had made just five appearances at senior level for Mechelen, would stay on loan at the Jupiler League side for another season.

One of a number of promising players snapped up by City during the same summer, his arrival commanded just a four-paragraph story on the clubs official website.

However, 18 months on, Kabores name is far more well-known, having been voted the Young Player of the tournament at the 2022 African Cup of Nations.

He had already been making steady progress at Troyes, a sister club in the City Football Group, long before the tournament in Cameroon, where he played every minute as Burkina Faso reached the semi-finals.

His performances have now catapulted him into a wider consciousness and seen him identified as someone ready to take the next step at club level.

As a quick, attacking full-back, Kabore provided three assists – as many as any other player at the tournament – and showed his defensive quality when he went up against Sadio Mane in the semi-final clash with eventual winners Senegal.

The 20-year-old has since headed back to France and will now aim to aid Troyes in their Ligue 1 relegation battle.

Of course, with his loan deal set to end this summer, the big question now is: what happens next?

Kabore has three years remaining on his City contract and, within the club, they believe he has the potential to succeed in the Premier League.

However, making it at the Etihad Stadium is never easy for a young player and Pep Guardiola already has two world-class right full-backs in Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo.

Behind those two, the competition is just as fierce.

England youth international CJ Egan-Riley has already made his first-team debut, while the promising Rico Lewis is progressing rapidly through the age groups.

Away from Manchester, City have also invested in a number of exciting right-backs.

Pedro Porro is now a Spain international, although Sporting Lisbon have an option to buy the 22-year-old, while Peruvian prospect Kluiverth Aguilar is on loan at Lommel.

The highly-rated Yan Couto is performing particularly well at Braga, where he is playing a pivotal role in the Portuguese sides push for Champions League football.

However, Kabores form has been noted at City. The club obviously keeps a close eye on all of their loan stars and they have been encouraged by the progress hes made in recent months.

Head of Emerging Talent Scouting and Recruitment Phil Robinson told Kabore when he first signed: “Keep working hard. Dont think youve got to change your style of play because youve now signed for Manchester City.

“Keep doing what youre doing, keep learning from the guys there at Mechelen and I wish you all the best.”

Kabore took the advice on board. He went on to make a further 29 appearances for Mechelen as they finished eighth in the Belgian First Division before then moving to Troyes.

He has since become a regular for Burkina Faso, starting their last 14 internationals.

Unfortunately, their dreams of a first-ever World Cup appearance are over. Despite remaining unbeaten in their group, they finished below Algeria to miss out on a play-off game.

Still, his performances have seen the rumour mill kick into gear, with Serie A leaders Inter now said to be interested in snapping up Kabore.

For now, though, the focus switches back to keeping Troyes in Ligue 1 as they currently sit a point above the relegation zone.

Kabore returns to Manchester in the summer with no decision yet taken over his next step.

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