The 2015/2016 EPL campaign was a dream come true for both Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi. Both of the aforementioned received their first team debuts and did not disappoint.
Kelechi Iheanacho has been a bright spot for Manchester City in a season that has not gone how they had anticipated. Manchester City suffered a number of setbacks this season with injuries to some key players-De Bruyne and Aguero-just to name a couple. Iheanacho seized the opportunity and impressed with the playing time he was awarded from manager, Manuel Pellegrini. In 25 league appearances, the young Nigerian tallied seven goals and two assists, which are good numbers for a 19 year old in his debut season. City has used Iheanacho in several different positions: left midfielder, second striker and forward. As of right now, it seems that the forward position suits him the best because that is when he is at his best. The only downside to this is the fact that City already has Aguero there, which could force Kelechi to change positions. For a 19 year old, Iheanacho’s finishing is very good. He does not panic in pressure situations and plays to his strengths for the most part, something that young players do seldom.
Next season will be an interesting one for Iheanacho. With Pep Guardiola taking over for Manuel Pellegrini, we could possibly see the Nigerian go on loan to another EPL team, although I think that would be a bit harsh for a player who has already proved he can contribute to one of the top clubs in the league. City will go out and sign new players this summer, but hopefully they do not forget what Iheanacho offered to the team when a number of key players were out with injuries.
Alex Iwobi, similar to Kelechi Iheanacho, bursted onto the scene this year after Arsenal were left shorthanded due to a few injuries to their starters. Iwobi is a player who likes to dribble the ball, when he gets the chance and at times has been a handful for defenders to deal with. With the confidence that Iwobi has shown this season, I fully expect him to be a big part of Arsenal’s future, along with the likes of Crowley and Bielik, who should be making the jump to the first team as early as next year. Iwobi’s best position is either wing, where he can challenge defenders one-on-one and use his technical ability to get by and create chances for teammates. Alex still has to learn the defensive side of the ball because he often gives up on plays once he loses possession.
I can see Alex being a big part of the Arsenal team for next year. With rumours going around that Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain could be on their way out, I think this opens up a spot for Alex to start, at least a few games. Danny Welbeck will also be out for a number of months. Similar to Manchester City, I hope Arsenal do not go out and overpay for wingers, when they have a player like Iwobi coming up, who has shown that he can be counted on.
What does this mean for Nigeria?
If I am a fan of Nigerian football, I am very happy right now. Getting both Iheanacho and Iwobi to commit to the national team is a huge deal. The team has had some success at World Cups’ and have been pretty good at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament that takes place every two years, and with the “acquisition” of these two young men, Nigeria is in good hands for the next few years. These two can potentially be very difficult players to deal with for the opposition with their technically ability, passing and finishing.
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.