ADVERTISEMENT

Is it time for Super Eagles star Kelechi Iheanacho to leave Leicester City?

The Super Eagles star has had a rollercoaster since moving to the King Power Stadium.

Kelechi Iheanacho has played a cameo role for most of his time at Leicester City

When Kelechi Iheanacho joined Leicester City in the summer of 2017, it was supposed to be the platform that would take his career to the next level.

ADVERTISEMENT

Iheanacho signed for Leicester in 2017 after two years with Manchester City. Not that his time at City was bad; after all, he scored 21 goals and assisted another eight in 64 appearances for the club.

But while Ihenacho had a decent return during his time at the Etihad, he never enjoyed a regular run of game time due to the level of competition in City's squad.

As a result, he had to join Leicester, which made sense for both parties and came at the right time for obvious reasons. The Foxes got a player with Premier League experience, while Iheanacho was guaranteed regular playing time with the move, giving him the chance to showcase his undeniable talent.

However, five years after joining the Foxes, Iheanacho's time at the club has been a rollercoaster ride with a lot of downs and a few moments of excitement.

In his first year at the club, he scored just three league goals and registered three assists in 21 league games, although he did score four goals in five FA Cup games.

However, the league is the ultimate test of a player's performance. Iheanacho did not fare any better the following year (2018/2019 season), scoring just one league goal and assisting another four in 30 league games, which was a bad return for a player that arrived with huge expectations.

Following his disappointing second season at the King Power Stadium, Iheanacho's stock dropped, falling in the pecking order at the club. He was frozen out and did not play a league game in the 2019/2020 season until December.

At that point, it looked like Iheanacho's Leicester career was coming to an end. But surprisingly, a cameo appearance against Everton, which saw him come on to score and provide an assist to give Leicester a win, turned his career around.

Iheanacho went on to score five goals and assisted another four in 20 league games that season. It was the boost that he needed as he had his best year at the club the following season.

The Nigerian international finished as Leicester's top scorer in all competitions in the 2020/2021 season with 19 goals, including 12 in the Premier League, three in the Europa League and four in the FA Cup, which Leicester won.

It was hoped that Iheanacho would build on from where he stopped, but everyone was wrong as the Nigerian international returned to his former self, with just four goals and five assists in 26 league games last season.

While Iheanacho had his chances, especially in his first two seasons at the club, he was never trusted by his managers.

In his five seasons at the club, he has made the Premier League matchday squad 174 but has only started 54 games, with 68 substitute appearances, which shows that coaches do not think he is good enough to start games.

As a result, this affected his ability to perform consistently for the club. Like any other player, Iheanacho needs the trust of his manager to be consistent.

He showed that two seasons ago, when he started many games for the clubs in the second half of the campaign. It is no coincidence that the second half of the 2020/2021 season is still his best spell at Leicester.

The Nigerian was a regular in Leicester's starting lineup between February and May. The Super Eagles star scored 11 league goals in the last 13 games of that campaign. In this period, Iheanacho was in the Foxes' starting lineup 12 times, playing the full 90 minutes nine times, which shows why a regular run of game time is needed for Iheanacho to deliver.

However, in fairness, it is really hard to blame Leicester's manager Brendan Rodgers for not regularly including Iheanacho in his lineup.

The Nigerian international is a coach's nightmare because he does not fit into a particular formation. Although he played as a number ten and sometimes behind the striker in his formative years, Iheanacho does not have the quality to play the same roles again.

In fact, just a few teams play a number ten right now, with that position now obsolete, meaning he has to play up front. However, the Nigerian international cannot play alone up front, which is why Rodgers prefers to play 35-year-old Vardy as a lone striker.

Another solution would have been to play Iheanacho on the wings, but the Super Eagles star does not have the required speed of a winger. And with Rodgers unwilling to adapt his style to fit in the Nigerian, Iheanacho has no option but to play a cameo role.

If there's any time for Iheanacho to leave, it is now. The Nigerian has appeared as a substitute in three of Leicester's four league games this season, which is unlikely to change.

And it is important to note that Leicester's squad is currently thin due to a lack of reinforcements, yet Iheanacho could not get a spot in the starting lineup.

With Rodgers not willing to give him a chance, it may be time for Iheanacho to end his five-year stay at the King Power Stadium.

He is now at the age he needs to play regularly, but he needs to leave Leicester for that to happen.

However, while Iheanacho may need to leave Leicester, it must be for a club that suits him perfectly.

He needs to apply wisdom when choosing his next club, as failure to do that could see him encounter the same situation he is currently facing at Leicester City.

The Super Eagles star's next team should be a side that plays a style that will accommodate his kind of player.

Over to you, Seniorman.

ADVERTISEMENT

More from category

Recommended articles

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT