Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho has said that he is “not happy” to see manager Manuel Pellegrini leave the club this summer.
Pellegrini took charge of his final game in charge of City on Sunday, a 1-1 draw against Swansea City which all but assured a top-four finish.
Pep Guardiola will officially take up the reins on July 1 and is expected to oversee an overhaul of the current squad, with a handful of players set to be shown the door.
Iheanacho, 19, will be safe from the cull having demonstrated his promise with 14 goals in his maiden campaign, but he insisted that he will miss working with Pellegrini, who took him on City’s pre-season tours in 2014 and 2015 and handed him a prominent role in the squad this season.
“I am not quite happy that he is going, but this is the football world and anything happens,” he told reporters. “I just wish him good luck wherever he goes, and will be praying for him and hope to see in future.
“He is a special manager for me and has done great things in my life – he brought me into the first team, introducing me to work with the squad right from pre-season last year.
“I am happy for him, for everything he achieved with this team, and happy that he made me a part of it. I won’t forget him, no matter where he goes.
“He is popular with the players – he makes people happy when they work with him because he likes to play football.”
Iheanacho only received his British work permit last February, bringing an end to a tumultuous period in his fledgling career.
He had been stationed in Barcelona and the United States by City as they worked on finalising his paperwork, meaning that although he first played for the club in the summer of 2014, he had to wait over a year for his competitive debut.
But even after finally seizing his chance in the first-team, the Nigerian is hopeful of getting even better next season.
“I have been playing and scoring goals this season, so it has been a huge difference to what happened to me last season.
“But next season I hope to be much better, and score more goals to help the team succeed in all the competitions.”
Meanwhile, his father, James is optimistic that the Super Eagles forward will still shine at the club under incoming manager Pep Guardiola.
There have been some concerns whether Kelechi will get the same opportunities under Guardiola as he got under Manuel Pellegrini this season, but his father told AfricanFootball.com his boy will feature prominently for the former Barcelona boss.
“Kelechi will definitely play under Guardiola and I am sure of that,” James Iheanacho said.
“He has done well whenever he has been given opportunities this season and I am sure the new coach will want to work with him.”
The striker’s contract with the club runs until the summer of 2019, though his agent is in talks with City for a new and hugely improved deal at the Etihad.