West Ham are setting out their stall early in the summer.
The Hammers have made a bid for the £20 million-rated Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho, according to Sky Sports sources.
The 20-year-old enjoyed a superb first season under Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad, scoring 14 times in 35 appearances. His time under Pep Guardiola has been far less productive, however. The Nigeria international has started only nine games under the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss.
Even after scoring in a 2-1 Manchester derby victory back in September, Guardiola was not willing to shower the starlet with praise. With Sergio Aguero out injured at the time, Guardiola stated that Iheanacho had started as ‘he was the only striker we had in that moment.’
Following the addition of Gabriel Jesus to the City squad, the frontman has struggled to even claim a spot on the bench. He has started only one game this year, against Burnley back in January. After this, Guardiola seemed to put the boot in on the young Nigerian’s future at the club.
He explained his lack of game time by insisting that the team had not created ‘many chances for this kind of player.’
Given his lack of game time since, it seems the 46-year-old has no intentions of further nurturing the striker.
As a result of reduced opportunities, Iheanacho’s goalscoring figures have halved this year, hitting the net seven times in 28 appearances. This fall off in stats won’t prove prohibitive to too many. He still has an incredibly high ceiling, potential wise.
A club like West Ham could be well placed to offer the youngster the chances he needs to progress. They could face stiff opposition from Everton for his signature, however, according to ESPN.
The bid for Iheanacho comes hot on the heels of West Ham agreeing a deal to sign Pablo Zabaleta from City when his contract expires on July 1.
Zabaleta has agreed a two-year deal with Slaven Bilic’s men and is their first signing of the summer.
Noel Ryan, Pundit Arena