Kelechi Iheanacho’s departure from Manchester City is significant.
The Nigerian is set to leave for another Premier League club in a £25m deal that includes a buy-back option.
It’s comfortably the most money City have received for anyone this summer, and probably will remain the case when the window slams shut.
In a period where the Blues have offloaded England’s No.1 and a collection of other internationals, it both shows the potential of Iheanacho and the potential value City have got for him – certainly by comparison.
As far as the academy is concerned, the departure of the only product from it that got Premier League minutes last season adds more pressure on the £200m complex to bear fruit for the first team.
Most telling though has been the way Iheanacho’s career has been ended at City.
A year ago it seemed like the rising star’s path could only go one way.
Viewed as one of the most valuable young players on the continent, his fall in importance at the Etihad was certainly not seen by the club’s chairman, who was happy to talk up the player in his 2016 yearly address.
It started off well under Pep Guardiola.
After convincing the player to pass up the opportunity to play at the Olympics, the coach started Iheanacho in the Manchester derby and was rewarded with the opening goal at Old Trafford.
But the opportunities quickly dried up as it became increasingly clear that the striker did not possess the very particular qualities Guardiola requires.
Asked about the player’s future in January, the manager stated that City ‘didn’t create the kind of chances for this kind of player’ in the preceding months.
If there was any doubt as to whether this was a team failing or policy, the fact Iheanacho did not start another game from that point on has since removed it.
The £25m fee – and interest from other clubs – reflect the player’s promising start to Premier League life.
Leicester are getting a striker who has a knack for goals and can perform consistently when played regularly; that City have insisted on a buy-back nods to their acceptance of his potential.
Photo: Kelechi Iheanacho undergoing his Leicester City medical. Announcement should come soon. pic.twitter.com/mQzcXHzXBc
— City Watch (@City_Watch) August 1, 2017
But having put so much into getting the manager at the Etihad, any other hopes or plans for particular players have had to be shelved to allow the former Barcelona man to do everything his way.
Whatever else Iheanacho goes on to achieve in the game, he has already joined the list of names – illustrious and otherwise – that have been sacrificed for Guardiola’s masterplan.
City bosses would point out that such a policy worked pretty well for Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
By Manchester Evening News
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