The decision by Manchester City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, to promote youth football prodigy Kelechi Iheanacho to the club’s senior team for current English Premier League season has reportedly sparked a new wave of self-belief in other youngsters at the City Football Academy.
Iheanacho, Most Valuable Player at the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup won by Nigeria, joined City from Taye Academy in 2014 and spent the whole of the 2014-15 season playing for City’s youth team.
Towards the end of last season, Pellegrini had toyed with the idea of farming out Iheanacho to another club where he would be able to get regular playing tine, but the Nigerian sneered at the move and instead resolved to fight for a slot in the senior team. Iheanacho would go on to make a big impression on the club’s preseason tour, which took them to Australia, Vietnam and Germany.
He played five times, scored twice, created another two, and impressed with his speed of thought, quick feet, technical ability and confidence to try the audacious.
With Iheanacho, 18, now Man City’s third-choice striker following the departure of Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko, the management of the club reckons it could spark the emergence of the club’s academy hopefuls into the first-team.
Brian Marwood, City’s academy director who spent six years researching and designing the City Football Aacademy, wants a first team comprised of “four to six” academy players. The lack of academy graduates in City’s senior squad has been a direct result of the heavy investment array of world-class stars.