Nigeria and Manchester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho is currently in a dilemma, the situation becoming worse because the supposed “Highest paid Nigerian player in the English premier league” has not gotten enough playing time in Manchester City since the arrival of Pep Guardiola last summer to prove if he actually deserves the wages he earns or should be paid more.
While opinions may differ on what he deserve to earn or where he should be playing, what should be key to the 20-year-old Nigerian forward is a club in Europe’s top four, where he will get enough playing time. What I mean here is that he must be ready to be on the mind of any manager where he intends to go, as first eleven to enable him prove himself that he remains a key player for the club.
Iheanacho emerged as the MVP in the Fifa cadet U17 Championship hosted by UAE in 2013, in which Nigeria won the championship for a record 5 times. He made 7 appearances and scored 8 goals, a feat which earned him special recognition during the CAF Award as the Most Promising Talent of the Year for 2013. He was sought for by Manchester City, but because of his age, he could not sign a valid contract but joined the City academy, which he later signed when he celebrated his 18th birthday.
Unfortunately, Iheanacho’s real dilemma started when he represented Nigeria for the second time in the U20 championship, under same Coach Manu Garba whom he accomplished same task with in the U17 2013 championship. He made only two insignificant appearances and scored no goal, as at then he had already secured a deal with City.
Between 2015/2016 to 2016/2017 seasons, Iheanacho had a total of 46 appearances for City in all competitions, scoring a total of 12 goals which is at an average of 6 goals per season, an unremarkable feat that need to be critically reviewed , if he must make headway in the future.
Though critics argue that he was not favoured by Pep Guardiola, but the fact remains that there where also the likes of England’s No 1 goalkeeper Joe Hart, who lost favour in the sight of the Spaniard, but moved on to Torino in Italy, where he got a regular first team shirt while in the club. If Torino cannot sign Hart today its not because he is not good, but because they cannot afford the wages he is currently asking for.
Currently, players like Gabriel Jesus(20), Kylian Mbappe (18),who are within the age range of Iheancho are currently seeking to be in clubs where they will get enough playing time and prove their worth, and not making earning their priority.
At age 18 Cristiano Ronaldo was signed from Sporting Lisbon by Manchester United on a transfer fee of £12.24 million, but in 2009 he was transferred for a record fee of £80 million to Real Madrid. At the age of 18, Lionel Messi’s fee was undisclosed in Barcelona, but his manager were already having serious headache on how to keep him on bench while Ronaldinho played, but with time, he established himself in an attacking line-up which had Samuel Eto’o , Ronaldinho and himself.
Kelechi Iheanacho needs enough playing time, he should be prepared to make himself a first-team player and that is what is key to him now, he should be prepared to go to any club in the premier league where he will get enough playing time and aim at being among the top goal scorers in the premier league, with that, his suitors will surely develop headache if they do not have him on their list.