Player profile: Eliaquim Mangala, Porto, defender

Coveted. Mangala is a summer target for Manchester City Photo: PA

It's been another impressive year for Eliaquim Mangala at Porto, where, in recent seasons, he has matured into one of the finest young defensive prospects in Europe.

Coveted by many in the last couple of transfer windows, a move to Manchester City - to fill that niggling ‘next-to-Kompany-role' that they have struggled so badly with since it transpired in late 2012 that Joleon Lescott wasn't very good - seemed likely in January, but failed to go through after the deal (that also included his teammate, Fernando) collapsed late on deadline day.

Man City is nowadays one of the big clubs in the world so you are always flattered by their interest in you

– Mangala speaking to Skysports

Europa League quarter finals: Watch Sevilla v Porto and Juventus v Lyon live online

But City's loss has undoubtedly been Porto's gain, as the promising Frenchman's continued fine form into the latter part of this season has been, in truth, one of the highlights of a fairly disappointing campaign so far for the reigning Portuguese champions.

Following three consecutive titles, Porto have struggled badly in the league this year, and currently find themselves down in third place, a colossal 15 points behind their bitter rival, Benfica.

There was also an extremely underwhelming Champions League group stage exit to deal with - despite being seeded in the top pot due to indescribably unclear reasons based on UEFA's bafflingly complicated and pointless coefficient rankings - but from the ashes of that has risen a promising Europa League run, and a good result in Seville on Thursday night will see them progress into the semi-finals.

Mangala scored the only goal of the game in the first leg - a powerful diving header in the 31st minute - and, such is the estimation in which he is held at the Estadio Do Dragao, he was also given the captaincy on the night in the absence of regular skipper, Helton.

Mangala scores a diving header against Sevilla in the first leg of the Europa League quarter final last week Credit: PA

Highlights: Porto 1-0 Sevilla

A good period overall, then, it has been for the 23-year-old, but it could get even better given his ascension into the French national team over the past year or so. There is the small matter of a World Cup on the horizon, and a place in Didier Deschamps squad for the tournament is looking more and more likely with every passing week, especially when considering the current uncertainty surrounding their central defensive positions.

There are plenty of options: Laurent Koscielny, Mamadou Sakho, Adil Rami and Raphael Varane, to name a few, but none are yet nailed-on starters, and if Mangala maintains his current form until the end of the season, he could easily sneak his way onto the plane, and even into the starting line-up.

He made his international debut in June 2013 in a 1-0 loss to tricky Uruguay, before turning in an assured display for his second cap - keeping Robin van Persie at bay and helping to secure a 2-0 victory in the process.

Capped. Mangala makes his second appearance for France against the Netherlands in March Credit: PA

Europa League preview: Sevilla v Porto

Exciting times they are, then, for the young Frenchman. The possibility of a run to the Europa League final, a potential South American excursion awaiting this summer, and a likely move to one of European football's elite to follow. And even if his mooted move to Manchester City fails to transpire, it is unlikely to be a shortage of other potential suitors for him.