Manuel Pellegrini paid tribute to 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup jewel Kelechi Iheanacho after he starred in Manchester City’s win over Sporting Kansas City but admitted that the Premier League champions may struggle to secure a work permit for the teenage Nigerian striker.
Iheanacho, 17, capped an impressive appearance by scoring the last of City’s goals in a 4-1 win at Sporting Park early this morning (Thursday) in a pre-season friendly and Pellegrini is convinced he has a bright future in the game.
City beat a host of European clubs to sign Iheanacho after he scored six goals in seven games to claim the Golden Ball at last summer’s cadet World Cup.
But Pellegrini is uncertain if they will now be able to secure the necessary paperwork so he can stay in England.
Pellegrini said: “Kelechi is just 17 years old and he’s a very important player for us in the future. He demonstrated today what he can do in the future. It depends on the way he takes this profession, but I think he’s a good talent.
“We’ve not decided yet (what the plan is for him) because it’s not easy. He’s just 17 and sometimes that’s the problem. We’ll see what he will do in the future. For the moment he will stay with us and we’ll see when we return to England what will happen with him. But he’s a very important player for the future for the club.
“After the tour we will see what happens with him. There are a lot of things to arrange to play in England but he has an important future.”
Pellegrini was satisfied with a comfortable win in the opening tour game. Bruno Zuculini, Dedryck Boyata and Aleksandar Kolarov were the other scorers against a Sporting side who made wholesale changes at half-time.
“I think it was a really good game especially in the first 45 minutes when both teams had their best players,’ said Pellegrini.
“It was very useful for us because Sporting Kansas changed 11 players for the second half so it was a very physical game.
“The score doesn’t matter. It’s always important to win but I understand that Sporting Kansas have a very important game against Toronto at the weekend.
“We have a lot of players who are not in our squad at the moment but it’s useful that the other players have a chance to demonstrate what they can do.
Pellegrini concluded his analysis of the game by reserving special words for some of the big stars of the club who played some part in the game.
“We have new players. Willy Caballero is good keeper and I know him. Zuculini is a young player who has come from Argentina and Fernando has more experience in Europe with Porto,” the trained Engineer stated.
Iheanacho’s U-17 World Cup teammate Chidiebere Nwakali was however not part of the USA trip.