Being the son of a professional footballer brings its own set of unique challenges. The player will always be measured up against the achievements of his father and if he falls short, ridicule is inevitable. Many famous footballers’ sons have gone on to make a great career for themselves in the game. Federico Chiesa (Son of Enrico Chiesa) and Giovanni Simeone (Diego Simeone) come to mind. Hoping to follow their path to stardom is Jaden Heskey, the son of former English international, Emile Heskey.
So, who is Jaden Heskey, and why does he look like such a sure bet to rival his father’s accomplishments, and perhaps even outshine him? Here is the lowdown on the Manchester City prodigy.
Who is Jaden Heskey?
Jaden Heskey is a 17-year-old forward in Manchester City’s academy. Just like his father, Emile Heskey, Jaden’s natural position is as a No 9, a centre-forward, who makes his living by scoring goals.
He has been with the Cityzens since the age of eight and was offered scholarship terms in December 2021 after showing elite potential. The 2022/23 season was his first with the U18 team. He thrived as the central striker while also showing the ability to play as a second striker or, in case of an emergency, on the wings as well.
For a youngster who was playing his first season proper in youth football with the U18s, Heskey showed great talent. He made 12 appearances for Manchester City U18s, scoring thrice and assisting two goals. While this figure might seem low at first glance, it is worth noting that this output came in just 663 minutes, as he played just 31% of the available minutes. It comes to a goal or an assist every 221 minutes.
He even made an instant impact in the FA Youth Cup, where he made two appearances off the bench, totalling 21 minutes, but managed to score both times.
Such was his potential that he was even fast-tracked to the U21s team for a while. He made three appearances for them in the 2022/23 season and scored once.
Style of play
The first thing that catches the eye when watching Jaden Heskey is how strong he is for his age. He is already comfortable playing with his back to the goal and bringing others into the game.
From there on, one starts appreciating his technical gifts. The handprint of Pep Guardiola is all over the youth sides of Manchester City and Jaden Heskey is no different. The style of play implemented at City from the grassroots level up to the senior team means the youngsters need to be skilled in multiple areas.
It has bore fruit as Jaden Heskey is more than just a goalscorer. He is a versatile presence in the front line, constantly buzzing about the forward areas to unsettle opposition markers. His link-up play is already advanced for his age as his propensity to do layoffs means that no defender can truly stick tight to him.
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Of course, despite all the skills, the bread and butter for a striker is the art of scoring goals, and Jaden Heskey is very good at that. Raw stats tell their own story, but his composure in front of the goal is a sight to behold. He rarely gets flustered when faced with the keeper and his side-footed shot into the bottom corner is quickly becoming a trademark.
In other areas, like defending from the front, Heskey should improve with time as he gains an understanding of pressing triggers and patterns. For now, Jaden Heskey’s style of play is well advanced considering his age.
Jaden Heskey’s potential
Manchester City’s youth system is arguably the strongest in the country. The only reason why the players don’t break into the senior team with regularity is because of the vast quality of the first team. The likes of Cole Palmer, Liam Delap, and James McAtee are probably already Premier League level. Then there is Romeo Lavia, who bossed the PL with Southampton after leaving Manchester City.
For Jaden Heskey to have made a name for himself already in such a glittering batch is a testament to his potential. Managing to play for the U21s in the season he made his U18s debut shows the trust youth coaches have in him to make the step up.
Unlike his Dad, Jaden Heskey has the potential to be a formidable goalscorer while retaining all the intangibles which had Emile Heskey make 633 career appearances for various clubs and earn 62 caps for England.
At his best, Jaden Heskey will be a multi-faceted skilful forward who will be as capable of scoring goals as he will be of creating them. The striker position at Manchester City is the toughest to break into in all of football due to the presence of Erling Haaland. However, it is unlikely that Haaland spends his entire career at the club.
When the Norwegian cyborg leaves the club eventually, Manchester City might not have to look beyond their own youth to fill that gap. That’s how good the striking crop is at Manchester City currently. Jaden Heskey has the potential to be the crown jewel of that crop.