Kelechi Iheanacho: Will He Remain a Fox?

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City falls to the ground after he battles for the ball with Frederic Guilbert of Aston Villa during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Aston Villa at The King Power Stadium on March 09, 2020 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

With Newcastle said to be on his trail to bolster their team ahead of next season and having not received too many kind words from Manager Brendan Rodgers in recent times, Nigeria international, Kelechi Iheanacho, may be preparing for life out of King Power Stadium

In June, Foxes of Leicester reported that the King Power Stadium were considering selling Nigeria international striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, but since then the former Manchester City player has been a particularly positive catalyst for the Foxes.

Additionally, Manager Brendan Rogers has in a press conference confirmed the club are looking at the transfer market to discover attackers to sign, which automatically places the Nigerian’s position in the squad at risk.

It was also hugely rumoured that Leicester may fund new targets by selling Iheanacho, though Rogers also indicated that the forward won’t be sold by attesting to his impressive current displays, although they are still apparently monitoring potential signings.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United are said to have already made contact with the Foxes to talk about the terms to sign Iheanacho. It is believed that Newcastle want to sign the Nigeria international whether a takeover goes through, or not.

The 23-year-old Iheanacho has made 24 appearances for Leicester this season and scoring 10 goals, despite only starting in 15 games. Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers picks Jamie Vardy as is number one striker and Iheanacho is forced to play second fiddle to the England international.

“He’s unfortunate he is playing behind one of the great strikers in Europe. Jamie is at the very top of his game, in his goalscoring and his pressing, so it’s very difficult for Iheanacho to get in,” Rogers said.

“He is a top lad and a top striker in the world, everyone knows,” Iheanacho said about Vardy.
“I am playing with him in training and watching him which inspires me as well. I will keep going. We can play as two strikers or we can play one striker as well. It depends on how the manager wants to play and set up the squad and everyone is important. We need everyone.”

Iheanacho maintained he’s happy at the King Power Stadium and is more than content with his current role under Brendan Rodgers.

“As a football player you need to keep your head and keep going and concentrate when you are playing and when you are not playing,” he said.

“Everyone has to go through this at some point. You need to keep working hard and believing in yourself that one day you can get your chance. I am confident. I believe in myself if I get the chance.

“Maybe you can call it a back-up striker or support striker, it’s something I am happy to be. Of course I could get my chance, it depends on what the manager wants to do,” he admitted.

This could mean that Iheanacho would be open for a change of scenery in the Premier League. He started his career at Manchester City but decided to move to Leicester as chances for first time football slimmed down after the club signed Gabriel Jesus. Leicester could be demanding at least €45m for Iheanacho, whose current deal runs until 2022.

Rodgers had slammed Iheanacho for his below performance after the Foxes were out-foxed in last Sunday’s 4-1 thrashing by Bournemouth even as he ruled the substitution of the Nigerian as tactical error.

Iheanacho, who had been heavily involved in Jamie Vardy’s opener, was withdrawn at half-time at the Vitality Stadium, with Rodgers tweaking his system to bring on Dennis Praet.

“Iheanacho wasn’t having one of his better games,” said Rodgers in his post-match press conference.

Iheanacho scored for Leicester City in their 3-0 win over Crystal Palace on July 4. It was a vital goal for the Foxes which set them to their first win since project restart, making it two goals for Iheanacho in two games as he continues to show that he belongs at this level.

Fans were having a different conversation about Iheanacho about seven months ago after he struggled to make any sort of impact following his £25m move from Manchester City. For two and a half seasons, the Nigerian looked out of place at Leicester City. It was different managers and the same story for the 23-year-old.

In those two and a half seasons at Leicester City, Iheanacho looked like a player short on confidence and coupled with the instability at the club, he looked lost.

This season was always going to make or mar his career at the top level and six months into it, he wasn’t making any progress until December 2, 2019, when he came off the bench to grab an assist and the winner as Leicester City edged Everton 2-1.

That was quickly followed by a couple of goals and assists. In the next game after the win against Everton, his first Premier League start of the season, he created a goal and scored another as Leicester City beat Aston Villa 4-1 away. He also went on to score three goals in three games against Aston Villa, and also goals against West Ham and Brentford.

And with Leicester City running low on confidence after four games without a win since the Premier League resumed action, it was the Nigeria international that broke the deadlock in their 3-0 home win against Crystal Palace.

This season, he now has five league goals, his best return since he scored eight goals for Manchester City in the 2015/2016 season.

He still hasn’t gotten the full trust of Rogers, but with his goal against Palace and his performances since December last year, Iheanacho continues to show that he has the abilities to thrive at this level.

With his confidence back, his dribbling has gotten better, he holds the ball better and his passing has improved.

However, no matter what happens with him now, whether he stays at Leicester City after this season or not, Iheanacho has shown that he can thrive at this level and that will be a huge boost for his career.