Iheanacho not the same player under Guardiola, says Owen

BT Sport pundit and former Premier League forward Michael Owen believes that Kelechi Iheanacho isn’t the same player under Pep Guardiola.

Iheanacho scored 14 goals for Manchester City last season with the majority of those coming as an extremely effective substitution. However, since Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad, questions have arisen over his form.

Owen’s opinion

Michael Owen said to BT Sport: “Iheanacho isn’t the same player he was once.”

He added: “His confidence has taken a hit, I think he plays with a lot of pressure as he is unsure what could happen next unlike when Pellegrini was in charge.

“He is surrounded by players he knows have the trust of the manager unlike during Pellegrini’s reign where he has the trust of the manager and knows it

“He has regressed under Guardiola. He is under pressure.”

Young striker failed to impress on start

The Nigerian youngster was given the opportunity to lead the line in Manchester City’s narrow 2-1 victory over Burnley but was replaced by Sergio Aguero at half-time.

Last season Iheanacho scored 14 goals in 35 games with many of them being crucial goals as a substitution. However, this season the youngster hasn’t featured as much as he did under Manuel Pellegrini.

Iheanacho has six goals in 17 games this season but hasn’t shown the confidence or ability we came to expect from his performances last year. Guardiola may become more reluctant to use the 20-year-old after he failed to impress against Burnley in the Premier League.

Is there a future at City for the Nigerian?

The 20-year-old still has a long career ahead of him and clearly has tonnes of potential however whether this potential will come to the forefront at Manchester City is another question.

Aguero has been the number one choice at Manchester City ever since his arrival back in 2011 and rightly so with incredible record of 153 goals in 229 games for City.

Being second choice is something that Iheanacho may have to become accustomed to much like Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko, and Wilfried Bony before him.

However, the recent addition of Gabriel Jesus from Palmeiras could see the Nigerian slide further down the pecking order. Jesus, who has represented Brazil on six occasions, averaged a goal every three games in Brazil and will be in Guardiola’s plans for the future.

Iheanacho must decide whether he is comfortable playing second fiddle at the Etihad Stadium and if so his performances must improve if he is to remain in Guardiola’s plans. Iheanacho could get another chance to impress in City’s FA Cup third round tie against West Ham on Friday.