Such was the impact that Marcus Rashford had in Manchester right from the word go back in February, little has been said about another striker who’s quietly going about his business in the city, and he goes by the name of Kelechi Iheanacho. But how do Man United and Man City’s young talents compare?
Ladbrokes News takes a look at both players’ incredible and immediate rise to the top.
Iheanacho arrived at Manchester City on January 10, 2014 from Taye Academy in Nigeria, after being linked with several European clubs including Arsenal and Porto. The striker had just been named Most Promising Talent of the Year for 2013 by the Confederation of African Football aged just 17.
Meanwhile, across the city, a 16-year-old Marcus Rashford was busy breaking into Man United’s U18 side, where he eventually scored 25 goals in 59 games before being called up to the U21 team for the following season.
The 2015-16 campaign was significant for both players, though at the beginning of the season, only one was expected to feature for their side’s first-team. That was Iheanacho, who had consistently impressed then-manager Manuel Pellegrini throughout pre-season, with goals against Roma and VfB Stuttgart.
The Nigerian was subsequently promoted to the senior squad for the opening game of the season against West Brom, though he didn’t make his competitive debut until 19 days later.
After an impressive start to the season in the U21 side, where Rashford had bagged three Europa Youth League goals in five appearances, several injuries in the first-team meant the Mancunian would feature among United’s substitutes against Watford. However, he didn’t make his first appearance until late February the following year.
By that time, Iheanacho had already featured for City on 26 occasions, scoring nine goals in all competitions. Used mainly as an impact substitute, the 19-year-old’s minutes-per-goal ratio was simply frightening.
By April, he was producing figures which bettered Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi with a goal coming every 81.27 minutes.
But as impacts go, you don’t get much better than Rashford’s for United.
Again injuries to the first-team meant there was a gap up-front that needed filling, and the 18-year-old stepped in with great effect, grabbing a brace on his European debut before netting another two just three days later against Arsenal.
Both went on to feature for their sides on a regular basis for the remainder of the season, and regular international call-ups were inevitable.
Making an impact on the international stage
In typical Iheanacho style, his first goal for Nigeria came just three minutes after coming off the bench against Mali in a 1-0 win, closely followed by his second for his country which came four days later in a 3-1 victory versus Luxembourg.
However, his standout strike for the Super Eagles came earlier this month, in a 1-0 win over Tanzania in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Like his rival, Rashford’s international impact was instant.
He featured in the second of three pre-Euro 2016 friendlies for England, and it took him just three minutes to get on the scoresheet for the Three Lions.
The United striker has since featured for his country on two occasions, neither of which he started in. But if he can maintain his incredible start to life as a Premier League striker, it’s only a matter of time before he challenges the likes of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy for a place in the starting line-up.
Both have got off to goalscoring starts this campaign too, with Rashford grabbing a last gasp winner away at Hull City while Iheanacho was the first to react to a Kevin de Bruyne shot which struck the post in a 2-1 win against their neighbours United.
The stats that matter
Club Appearances (all competitions)
Kelechi Iheanacho 40
Marcus Rashford 21
Minutes played for club
Kelechi Iheanacho 1381
Marcus Rashford 1498
Club goals scored
Kelechi Iheanacho 16
Marcus Rashford 9
Minutes per goal
Kelechi Iheanacho 86
Marcus Rashford 166
Kelechi Iheanacho 7
Marcus Rashford 2
So who would you rather have in your side? Let us know in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.