According to multiple reports, new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has told Kelechi Iheanacho he does not want the 19-year-old to take part in the Rio Olympics in order for him to be ready for the start of the Premier League season.
Those reports state that the young Nigerian has accepted Guardiola’s terms, and therefore has put his club career before a chance to represent his country.
When Nigeria named him to the provisional 35-man roster, Iheanacho said, “If your country wants to play for them you surely have to go, but it’s not up for me to decide. It’s not left for me to decide if I am going to the Olympics or not. My team and my country, I don’t know if they have concluded or not.”
With the Olympics taking up most of August, any players present in Rio would miss the majority of preseason as well as the beginning of the league season.
Iheanacho said he wants to do whatever it takes to push himself into the Manchester City first team, even saying he’ll play multiple positions. “I can play number nine, 10, seven and 11, so I don’t have any [concerns]. I can play different positions. Anywhere I can fit in, I will play. We have great players and we’ve made some great new signings, so I just need to work hard and I’ll get my chance to play. Everyone wants to start games and work hard. I need to work extra hard and I’ll get a chance. It’ll be a big season for me and for every player.” Moving from the central striker position might be beneficial to Iheanacho, who currently sits behind Sergio Aguero in that spot.