LONDON (Reuters) - Wilfried Bony has failed to set the world alight at Manchester City but the misfiring striker has a long-term future at the club, manager Manuel Pellegrini said on Friday.
The 26-year-old signed from Swansea City in January for around 30 million pounds but the Ivorian has struggled for form and fitness, scoring just one goal.
Bony returns to former club Swansea in the Premier League on Sunday and Pellegrini has backed the striker to come good in Manchester.
“It’s important to have this clear -- we didn’t bring Bony just for this year,” Pellegrini told a news conference.
“Maybe it was a difficult start for him here mainly because of his injury. Maybe he’s not playing the amount of minutes he must play but I‘m sure he’ll be a very important player next season.”
Bony’s fellow striker Sergio Aguero netted a hat-trick in City’s 6-0 victory against Queens Park Rangers last weekend and the Argentine is the Premier League’s top scorer with 25 goals.
Pellegrini said the club were not looking to cash in on the 26-year-old Aguero as he will play an integral role in City fighting for the title next season.
“We are not a selling team. I think Sergio is very happy here,” Pellegrini said.
”It’s the season when he’s scored the most goals in his career. It’s important for us to be a scoring team -- we continue to be the team that scores the most goals.
“When Sergio was coming back from his injury -- he took some games to return to his top performance but I always say he is one of the top five players in the world.”
Second-placed City have 73 points from 36 matches, three more than third-placed Arsenal but the Gunners have a game in hand.
Pellegrini is expecting a difficult match against an eighth-placed Swansea side who beat Arsenal on Monday and have impressed under manager Garry Monk this season.
“It’s the way you understand football and I think Garry Monk sees it in the right way,” he said.
”I think Swansea have had a very good season, they are playing well, they have an important amount of points.
“They are fighting for the Europa League which is a good season for them. They will hope to finish in the same way.”
Reporting by Michael Hann, editing by Ed Osmond