Thursday, November 23, 2017

What has happened to Kelechi Iheanacho?

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 8 Nov 2017

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In the summer, Leicester City pulled-off what looked like a real coup by signing Nigerian international striker Kelechi Iheanacho. The youngster arrived in the Midlands for a fee of £25million from Manchester City.

City boss Pep Guardiola had the likes of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus at his disposal, so Iheanacho was very unlikely to see much game time at the Etihad Stadium.

The move to Leicester should have been the real beginning of a promising career. Instead, the striker has struggled to make an impact at the club.

Struggled for game time at Leicester

When Iheanacho moved to Leicester, the 21-year-old must have believed that he would get lots of game time. However, he has started just three games for the Foxes, two in the Premier League and one in the League Cup.

The striker has also come off the bench six times in the top-flight for Leicester. The only things he has to show for his efforts in a Leicester shirt so far are a yellow card and a League Cup goal.

Not quite what anybody expected of the highly rated forward, including the player no doubt. Iheanacho cannot impress if he does not play and it must be massively frustrating for the youngster.

At Leicester England striker Jamie Vardy is the main man, with the likes of Shinji Okazaki and Islam Slimani also providing striking options at the club. Iheanacho joined Leicester supposedly as a strike-partner for Vardy, but it has not quite worked out that way.

The change of manager at Leicester has not helped Iheanacho’s case for first-team starts. Former boss Craig Shakespeare signed the striker, but French boss Claude Puel is now in charge.

The former Saints boss favours playing with one striker. However, Iheanacho did come off the bench to play more than half an hour against Stoke last time out, so there is hope for the striker yet of minutes under Puel.

Player with a lot of promise

I sang the praises of Iheanacho when he joined Leicester. I really did think the Foxes would be a good showcase for his talents. At Manchester City, he showed immense promise in very limited playing time.

At times, he was back up to Sergio Aguero, which is understandable considering the Argentinian’s scoring record at the club. Iheanacho was never going to dislodge Aguero, though.

The signing of Brazilian wonderkid Gabriel Jesus in January spelt the end of the young striker’s City career. He was then the third choice striker in a team that played with just one central striker.

During his brief cameos at City, Iheanacho showed many of the attributes needed to be a very good Premier League striker. He is quick, intelligent and often finds himself in goalscoring positions.

In short, all he needed was experience and the right coaching to starting fulfilling his potential at the top level.

Can help Leicester to a top-ten finish

It is rather hard to know what Leicester’s fans expectations are at the moment. Foxes fans will feel they should not be involved in the relegation dogfight, as their squad is arguably better than last season.

A top-ten finish for the Midlands side is definitely not out of the question this season, as there is much of a muchness about the team’s currently occupying midtable in the Premier League.

Puel’s side are currently odds of 8/13 to finish in the Premier League top-ten this season. That looks like a decent bet, especially if the young striker can get on the pitch and find form in the coming months.

Some are already labelling the young striker a flop. However, considering his lack of playing time, that would be an unfair assessment of the striker. He still has time to prove his worth to the Foxes.

Kelechi Iheanacho’s Leicester career has not quite gone to plan so far. However, just 11 games into the season, the campaign is but young and so is the striker.

At 21, he is still learning, so no snap judgements should be made of him just yet. With the right guidance, he can become a very important player for Leicester in the coming years, even if he is currently a bit-part player.

Will Kelechi Iheanacho be a success at Leicester?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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