Nigeria starlet Kelechi Iheanacho has said Manchester City will do well to secure a UEFA Champions League spot as a parting gift for outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Pellegrini is quitting The Etihad after three years and he will be replaced by former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola.
The Chilean boss helped City achieve their best-ever finish in the Champions League this season when they reached the semi-finals and Iheanacho said the team will fight to beat off the last-day challenge of rivals Manchester United to return to the competition next season.
Manchester City, on 65 points, need only a draw at Swansea City to pip United, who host Bournemouth, to the remaining Champions League place on Sunday.
“Manchester City are a big team who belong in the Champions League,” said Iheanacho on a television interview.
“The manager has done great and he deserves for us to qualify for the Champions League.”
It was Pellegrini who promoted the 19-year-old Nigeria forward to the City first team in August and he has repaid him with 13 goals in all competitions this season.
“He gave me the courage,” Iheanacho remarked.