Iheanacho has given Manchester City youth hope, says Pellegrini
Manchester City’s outgoing Manager, Manuel Pellegrini, has predicted that many of the exciting youngsters at the club’s academy will soon break through into the first team.
The Chilean took charge of his final game on Sunday with 19-year-old Kelechi Iheanacho scoring the only goal as City drew 1-1 with Swansea City to effectively secure Champions League football for next season.
However, the Nigerian striker is the only Academy player to become a first-team regular under Pellegrini — making 35 appearances and scoring 14 times.
The club spent £200 million building the state-of-the-art City Football Academy to bring through young talent and Pellegrini believes that incoming boss, Pep Guardiola, will reap the benefit when he takes charge for the next three seasons at the Etihad.
“I think in the next years you will see some players from the academy,” Pellegrini told a news conference.
“It is not easy. You must remember this club started the process to become a big team in the last eight years. So when you try to have a big squad, maybe at the beginning young players must be a bit postponed.
“But right now they are working very well in all the young divisions, we arrive to the [FA Youth Cup] final against Chelsea this season, so I am sure that in the way this club will continue growing, you will see young players soon playing in the first-team squad,” he said.
Pellegrini gave debuts to 10 City teenagers this season, however, Iheanacho was the only one to start a Premier League game.
He finished the season with eight Premier League goals — second only to Sergio Aguero at City — and Pellegrini says he has a bright future at the club.
“I think [against Swansea] he demonstrated how good he is — a very important player,” he said.
“He must improve a lot but a player of 19, who scores so many goals not playing all the games, I think has a brilliant future and I think all the fans of City will delight with him in the next years.”