He made his senior debut with Manchester City in 2010, and was their Young Player of the Year for 2009–10. For the 2011–12 season he was loaned to Bolton Wanderers, and for the first half of 2012–13 he was at FC Twente. In 2015, he moved to Celtic for around £1.5 million.
Boyata has been capped by Belgium at youth and senior level, making his senior debut in 2010.
Born in Brussels, Belgium, Boyata started his career in the youth team at Brussels before joining Manchester City in 2006. He was part of City's 2008 FA Youth Cup winning side, starting in both legs of the final against Chelsea. He won City's Academy Player of the Month award for April 2009. He was one of seven Academy players from his year to be promoted to training with the senior players from the start of the 2009–10 season.
Boyata made his first team debut against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup third round on 2 January 2010, playing centre-back and helping his side to a 1–0 win at the Riverside Stadium. His league debut was as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers nine days later, replacing Martin Petrov in the 86th minute of a 4–1 home win. His first start in the Premier League came away against Hull City on 6 February. He was named young player of the 2009–10 season for his efforts during both legs of the League Cup semi-final against rivals Manchester United.
Early in the 2010–11 season he scored the second goal in the Europa League play-off match against FC Timişoara on 26 August, his first for the club. His form continued to improve and was chosen to start against Chelsea on 25 September, who had been undefeated in the start of the season. Boyata played the match at right-back and put in a good performance as City kept a clean sheet to win the match 1–0. He was shown a red card just five minutes into a 3–0 home loss against Arsenal on 24 October, for fouling Marouane Chamakh while being the last man before goal. In total he clocked up 17 appearances during the season and was an unused substitute as Manchester City won the 2010–11 FA Cup. After that, Boyata spent a large part of the next two seasons away on loan, first at fellow Premier League club Bolton Wanderers and then in the Netherlands with FC Twente.
On 26 August 2011, Boyata joined Bolton Wanderers on a season-long loan. He made his starting debut on 10 September in Bolton's 5–0 home defeat to Manchester United and on 2 October scored his first goal for Bolton against Chelsea. Boyata sustained an ankle injury in the 2–0 loss to Sunderland on 22 October and the injury, which kept him out for six weeks, meant that Boyata, as part of his loan agreement, returned to Manchester City for treatment. He returned to the Bolton starting line up in the match at Tottenham Hotspur on 3 December.
On 31 August 2012, Boyata left Manchester City to join Dutch Eredivisie club FC Twente on a short-term loan. He made 8 appearances for FC Twente before rejoining Manchester City on 8 January 2013.
Boyata made his first Manchester City appearance in over two years when he started in a League Cup third round match versus Wigan Athletic on 24 September 2013. He helped his side keep a clean sheet in a 5–0 win, and came close to opening the scoring himself in the first half with a header that was tipped over the bar by the Wigan goalkeeper. On 4 January 2014, he was sent off for two bookings in the third round of the FA Cup, in a 1–1 draw at Blackburn Rovers. He was not included in City's matchday squad as they defeated Sunderland in the League Cup Final. Manchester City won the Premier League in 2013–14 but Boyata was not eligible for a medal as he made just one league appearance all season. On 28 May, Boyata signed a contract extension with Manchester City, which was due to keep him at the club until 2016.
On 10 August, Boyata played the full 90 minutes as City opened the season with a 3–0 defeat to Arsenal in the 2014 FA Community Shield. In all, he made six appearances in his final season, with one start from two in the league.
Boyata signed for Scottish Premiership champions Celtic on a four-year contract in June 2015, for a fee of about £1.5 million.
He made his competitive debut on 15 July 2015 in a Champions League qualifier at Celtic Park against Stjarnan, scoring the opening goal in a 2–0 win, and headed Kris Commons's cross for the late only goal against Qarabağ FK two weeks later in the third qualifying round. However, Celtic's defence were generally poor in the first half of the season, conceding nine goals in a five match run which saw them fail to qualify for the Champions League. Boyata was singled out for criticism for his performances, notably where he gave away a penalty with a clumsy foul during a 2–1 defeat away at Aberdeen, and also for some of the goals conceded during Celtic's run in the UEFA Europa League.
His first start (and appearance) of season 2016–17 came in the 1–0 Scottish Premiership victory at Kilmarnock on 18 November 2016. Boyata did not make his second appearance of the season until the 3–0 Scottish Cup victory at Albion Rovers on 22 January 2017. He scored two goals in his next three league appearances at Celtic Park, both headers from set-pieces, in 1–0 wins against St Johnstone and Aberdeen.
He has played 12 matches for the Belgium under-19s, scoring two goals. Boyata made his Belgium U21 debut in a 1–0 win over Malta on 3 March 2010. Five months later, he received his first senior international call-up when he was named in the squad for a friendly against Finland. He continued to show some impressive performances as he was promoted to a full first team player for Manchester City.
Belgium manager Georges Leekens selected Boyata for two Euro 2012 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Austria in late 2010. He didn't play against Kazakhstan, but made his debut against Austria on 10 October 2010, coming on as a half time substitute for Toby Alderweireld in a 4–4 draw. He received a call up for a friendly match against Slovenia in August 2011, but did not play. He was recalled to the Belgium squad in October 2015 for Euro 2016 qualifiers against Andorra and Israel. He didn't play in either of these games, but was called up again for a friendly against Portugal on 29 March 2016. He won his second cap in that game when he came on as a substitute after 86 minutes for Jason Denayer.
Boyata is from Uccle, a quarter of Brussels and is known to have a good relationship with former Manchester City and Belgium team-mate Vincent Kompany. His father Bienvenu Mandungu Boyata is a former Congolese footballer, who played during the 1990s in Belgium for Union Saint-Gilloise and Stade Leuven.As of 29 April 2017
FA Cup (1): 2010–11
Scottish Premiership (2): 2015–16, 2016–17
Scottish Cup (1): 2016–17