Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Aguero and even Odion Ighalo had earned plaudits this season for their performances this season but one man, Kelechi Iheanacho, has amazingly churned out eye-catching stats in his first season.
This season, the Nigerian youngster has played in 23 Barclays Premier League matches for Manchesterr City but in terms of minutes on the pitch the teenager has 518 in the bag compared to this season’s big hitters like Mahrez, Vardy, Kane, Lukaku, Aguero and even his countryman, Ighalo.
Iheanacho has far lesser minutes than the top-10 player performance index which Ighalo belongs to at the moment. The top-10 in the BPL player performance index this season currently average around 2,000 minutes per player this season. Out of more than 500 players featured on the player performance index, Iheanacho is ranked 265 after taking a 50-step leap from his previous 315 position after scoring twice in the 2-4 loss at Southampton on Sunday.
This season, Iheanacho has scored seven league goals just from 15 shots at goal which is a 67 per cent shot accuracy. His goals return also represents a goal every 86.9 minutes in this season’s Premier League for City.
Interestingly Iheanacho has a better goal every minute than the top-five scorers in the English top division this season – Kane (129.1 minutes), Aguero (95.4 minutes), Vardy (134.5 minutes), Lukaku (161.3 minutes) and Mahrez (169.6 minutes). His countryman, Ighalo, who is in the top-seven of the scorers’ board with 14 league goals, has a goal every 205.8 minutes.
However, Iheanacho is not new to churning out impressive numbers. At the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in UAE three years ago, he did not only win the Adidas Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, the teenager scored six goals and provided seven assists in 564 minutes, spanning seven matches.
After that tournament, Fifa described him as “the rampaging number 10.” Iheanacho at that point joined the like of Cesc Fabregas, Landon Donovan and Toni Kroos as players who have won the Under-17 World Cup golden ball and silver boot in an edition of the competition.
One man, who has worked with the Manchester City star, is not surprised by the player’s steady rise. “He is a talented footballer, and he is never afraid to take decisions when he is on the ball. So I am not surprised he has done well for himself at his club,” Nigeria under-17 head coach, Manu Garba, said about Iheanacho.
With Pep Guardiola set to take over as Manchester City in the summer. Iheanacho is already being tipped as one of the men that the Spanish coach can rely on. City legend, Shaun Goater, believes the Nigerian will come good under Guardiola’s reign.
“A few months ago I used to think we needed a forward to push Aguero but Kelechi Iheanacho has a frightening record and is excelling in his role. He also has a good work ethic and this is a key thing Pep Guardiola will be looking for next season – a work ethic as well as producing goals,” Goater told 888sport recently.
But as much as Iheanacho will look forward to work with Guardiola next season, the striker will be keen to continue to put in a decent shift for the rest of the season as Manchester City play hosts to Arsenal this Sunday in the Premier League.