Kelechi Iheanacho should be in Pep Guardiola's plans next season

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Ever since Manchester City found themselves able to spend freely due to the vast wealth of their owners, it is fair to suggest that they have tried their hardest to buy their way to success.

Expensive acquisitions began from the first day that the blue half of Manchester were taken over by billionaires, with Robinho a marquee signing in 2008.

However, as a result, youth players have found their time on the field extremely limited as managers require instant success and opt to field established and trusted stars.


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This has lead to the departures of a number of their highly-rated youths, most notably Jose Pozo, who made a total of three league appearances, and Celta Vigo star John Guidetti, who did not make a single appearance for City, but has gone onto establish himself at his new club.

Pep Guardiola has also not hesitated to start splashing the cash, with acquisitions of Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito. However, one player who has stood firm and waited for his chance is Kelechi Iheanacho, the 19-year-old Nigerian who is already a mainstay in the national side.

Can he realise his true potential and be instrumental in City success?

One thing that Iheanacho does not have a problem doing is scoring goals. Despite only starting 11 games in all competitions last season, he managed an impressive 14 goals and 5 assists, including 8 goals in the Premier League.

He finished as City's third top scorer behind Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne, and had a goals to game ratio of a goal every 93.9 minutes, which was the best in the division.

It is clear that if the player was to start more often and feature more prominently in Guardiola's side, he could be a potent weapon against slower defences and those that focus their efforts entirely on the mercurial Argentine, who will still be the spearhead of the City attack.

For the national side, Iheanacho has scored twice in four games - an impressive ratio for any player, let alone one who is 19 and made his debut only last year.

Another thing that Pep Guardiola is famed for is recreating players. At Barcelona, he converted Javier Mascherano from a holding midfielder into a centre-back, and at Bayern Munich, Philipp Lahm was converted into a holding midfielder from a full-back.

Iheanacho is currently able to play across the front line, and behind the striker. This could be something that appeals to the Spaniard immensely.

Taking a look at City's team, they seem to have no vacancies in midfield, and have brought in Nolito on the left, but a gaping hole lies on the right side of attack, with Jesus Navas surely not possessing the quality that the new manager demands.

The fact that Iheanacho is a left-footed player as well suggests that he could be deployed on the right, to cut inside and shoot or cross, similar to the role fulfilled by Lionel Messi in his early Barcelona days (and again now).

For a mere 19-year-old, Iheanacho is not only technically gifted, but very mature for his age. His lightning pace could be a nightmare for defenders and can stretch full-backs to create space for others around him.

Aside from his obvious qualities, when it comes to scoring goals, the five assists registered suggests that he has a keen eye for a pass and is more than happy to set up his teammates rather than score himself.

However, let's not forget that he is still young and not yet ready to shoulder the responsibility of an entire team. That is why it useful that Aguero is still in the peak of his career, and is capable of being the main man with others feeding him and supplementing his goals.

With the midfield trio (assuming Guardiola sticks with 4-3-3) of Gundogan, David Silva, and De Bruyne passing to him, and the movement of Aguero in the box, Iheanacho coming in from the right could prove a useful outlet for his side.

Finally, the player has already shown that he has the mental qualities to succeed. His ability and willingness to learn under the tutelage of modern football's greatest coach may form him into a fantastic all-round player and a potent weapon.

Having waited for his chance where others have floundered, perhaps it is time that his patience was rewarded.

Is Kelechi Iheanacho one of the best young strikers in the Premier League? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

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Kevin De Bruyne
Kelechi Iheanacho
Vincent Kompany
Premier League
Samir Nasri
David Silva
Manchester City
Sergio Aguero

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