Kelechi Iheanacho may have the best goal per minute ration of anyone in the English Premier League, but the arrival of Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Jesus with his blistering form and the ever present Sergio Aguero, means the Nigerian have hardly gotten a look-in from Manchester City’s coach in recent times.
When Pep Guardiola rocked up to Manchester, there was a lot of excitement at the arrival of the ‘final piece of the puzzle’. The drive to cast Manchester City in the mould of his all-conquering Barcelona team had precipitated a revamp of the club’s youth setup and training facilities, as well as changes on the administrative end.
A man of precocious talents, Iheanacho who shone like a million stars under Manuel Pellegrini last season despite not getting a lot of starts was supposed to spear head the new ‘youth revolution’ Guardiola was supposed to get underway.
And although Iheanacho has done much of the same as last season in his rare starts under Guardiola this term, yet, all of a sudden it seems the blue side of Manchester may not be the home we all thought it would be for the Nigerian after all.
Half a season into Guardiola’s tenure, there is little to indicate he was, or indeed has been, impressed. Iheanacho has kept up his eye-catching scoring ratio, but his minutes have been a lot sparser than anyone might have imagined.
Although he did get a chance to finally stake a claim a permanent place in the team in the absence of Sergio Aguero late last year, a series of indifferent performances and a lack of trust shown by his new manager, means it may be time for Iheanacho to start considering his next move.
The feeling that Guardiola doesn’t trust the forward’s ability as much as his predecessor did, and that the Spaniard is just waiting for someone better to come along and take a spot in the squad as Sergio Aguero’s back-up was proved right after the signing of Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazilian wonderkid was handed starts that have eluded Iheanacho and has already warmed his way into the heart of the Manchester City faithful with his high popping performances and goals.
According to goal, the arriving wonderkid recently helped Palmeiras to their ninth Brasileiro title, scoring 12 goals in 27 games in the process.
He also played a key part in helping Brazil to their first Olympic Gold this summer, and it should also be noted that he’s the current number nine for the Selecao, which is no mean feat for one so young!
Adept at playing as a winger or a striker, Jesus’s pace, finishing and work ethic may suit Guardiola’s idea of football more than Iheanacho, who may have his work cut out if he’s to keep his place in the squad.
In December, Iheanacho himself hinted at why Pep has been overlooking him and that goals simply aren’t enough to play as a striker in a Guardiola team.
“Pep is a great manager, everyone knows that,” he said. “In training he needs you at 100 per cent, 120 per cent, to get focused and do the right things. You need to follow the instructions and play as instructed with intensity. You need to really work hard to play in this team.
“You need to do more. You need to help the team do more. You need to press high, help your team-mates back and covering, and of course score goals.”
But will the Super Eagle still get the chance to show Guardiola he can be the man he needs beyond goal scoring? Time will tell.
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