Iheanacho delights Pep but Joe suffers Hart ache

MANCHESTER • Manchester City's new manager Pep Guardiola takes his team to Stoke City bolstered by the news that promising forward Kelechi Iheanacho has signed a long-term deal to stay at the club.

The 19-year-old Nigerian came off the bench in their English Premier League 2-1 victory over Sunderland last Sunday, and is considered one of the game's most exciting prospects with an excellent career record of eight goals in seven Premier League starts.

Iheanacho has agreed a two-year extension to his old deal which will keep him with City until at least 2021.

"I just need to keep working hard and express my feelings on the pitch," he said.

The situation regarding one of his team-mates, England goalkeeper Joe Hart, is more complex with the player seemingly at an impasse with the club over his short-term future.

Hart is reported to prefer a 12-month loan period away from City, where it has become apparent he does not figure in Guardiola's plans, in order to explore his options at the end of the season.

But City are understood to prefer a permanent sale of a player they value in the £25 million (S$44.2 million) bracket, a fee which would cover the pending signing of Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

Everton and Sevilla are the only clubs with an apparent interest in signing Hart on a permanent basis and he may face a frustrating end to the transfer window.

Stoke could again be without their own England goalkeeper, Jack Butland, for the meeting with City as he struggles to recover from the effects of the ankle injury he suffered on international duty.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes believes Guardiola's arrival in Manchester can only be good for the Premier League.

"He's an accomplished manager who has been successful wherever he has been," said Hughes.

"He's had huge resources wherever he goes and it's about using those resources to the best advantage possible and he's certainly done that, so I think it is good for the Premier League that he has come here."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2016, with the headline 'Iheanacho delights Pep but Joe suffers Hart ache'. Print Edition | Subscribe