Scouting Manchester City Transfer Target Kelechi Iheanacho

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistDecember 19, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 31: A general view of the action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Hull City at the Etihad Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
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They may be riding high in the Premier League and set for a huge clash with Barcelona in Europe in the new year, but that hasn’t stopped Manchester City from planning for the future.

The likes of Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and skipper Vincent Kompany might be the City stars of today, but Manuel Pellegrini will also be eager to plan for tomorrow, and that has led the Chilean to look at one of the standout performers of the recent Under-17 World Cup.

According to Mirror Football’s Alex Richards, the 17-year-old Nigerian playmaker Kelechi Iheanacho has rejected offers from both Arsenal and Manchester United in order to move to City.

The paper even quoted Iheanacho’s father James, who said:

"We prayed and, after talks with family members, we came up with Manchester City, believing he has a future there."

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Manuel Pellegrini, the Manchester City manager looks on during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City at The Hawthorns on December 4, 2013 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Davi
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That is quite some recommendation then, and with Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News also reporting a possible transfer, the sources claiming a move only seem to be getting louder.

But what sort of player will City be getting? Judging by the Under-17 World Cup, a very special one.

Iheanacho sparkled at the tournament in the United Arab Emirates, scoring six goals and making seven as Nigeria―the Super Eaglets―stormed to a fourth World Cup at this age group.

He scored in the 3-0 final victory over Mexico in front of over 20,000 supporters in Abu Dhabi, a second win over the same opponents in the competition following a stunning 6-1 victory in their opening match of the tournament in Al Ain. That result ensured the world stood up and took notice of such a talented side.

Playing just off the wonderfully named Isaac Success, Iheanacho impressed the large number of scouts watching on with a stunning four-goal haul, with his strikes showcasing a range of the left-sided star’s undoubted abilities.

His first two goals came following successful link-up play with Success, whilst he fired home his fourth from the edge of the box.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14:  Fernandinho of Manchester City celebrates with team mates after scoring their third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on December 14, 2013 in Manchester,
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The arguably more impressive Iheanacho now seems increasingly likely to make the EPL switch.

Tall, powerful and with a range of passing that would shame much more experienced opponents, Iheanacho’s displays in the UAE earned him a call-up to Stephen Keshi’s senior Nigeria squad for next month’s African Nations Championship―a tournament that is admittedly restricted to African players who play their club football in their home country.

In that same report from Richards, Keshi revealed that despite his initial misgivings, he has now given the player his blessing to go ahead and complete a move to Europe, saying:

Initially a young man came declaring that he was the agent of Iheanacho, but I declined to deal with him until I heard from the family because the boy is still a minor.

It was soon after my rejection that I got a call from his father who told me that they have got a travelling visa to the United Kingdom and that I should oblige him with his son's release.

I did and told the young man to go and do the nation proud at whichever club he finally chooses to settle down with.

That club looks increasingly like being City, although the fact that Iheanacho is too young to receive a work permit probably ensures that he’ll be shipped off to the club’s academy in Ghana as he continues to learn to make his way in the game.

Another loan move to a European club could follow once he turns 18, but if City really have beaten the likes of Arsenal and United to his signature―as those reports above suggest they have―then they could have unearthed a star of the future who will help keep them near the summit of the game.