With just over a week until the transfer window slams shut, FoL analyses whether Kelechi Iheanacho has been elevated at Leicester City.
Following a rather positive season last season, Kelechi Iheanacho’s career at Leicester City hasn’t quite lived up to potential. The Foxes currently own two strikers, Jamie Vardy and the Nigerian.
Vardy won the Golden Boot award at the end of the 2019/20 season with 23 goals. Since his £1 million move from Fleetwood in 2012, the Sheffield-born striker has gone onto become a Leicester legend.
However, for Iheanacho, his time in Leicestershire hasn’t been as promising. With a quiet 2017/18 season under Claude Puel, scoring three goals in 21 Premier League appearances. The following campaign, Iheanacho managed only one goal as Brendan Rodgers arrived mid-way through the term.
Last season was his best one yet, with a five goal contribution. The Nigeria forward started 12 of the 20 league games he appeared in, as he became a constant figure in Rodgers’ team around Christmas. After netting an injury-time winner against Everton, Iheanacho started in the 4-1 victory at Aston Villa before only missing four more games.
Since 2020/21’s opening, after being an unused substitution in the opening two games of the season against West Brom and Burnley, Iheanacho was handed a starting place against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday. However, he failed to impress as the Foxes only had two shots on target.
In the first minute Iheanacho attempted a left-footed strike from outside the box, but it went wide. A few moments later, another effort inside the 18-yard box was easily saved by Bernt Leno. However, it took until the 75th minute for Iheanacho to register another shot. Ultimately he failed to score.
Unlike Vardy, the 23 year old drops deeper to collect the ball and mix in with the flow of play. Out of his 16 passes, five were made inside Leicester’s half. With the boss opting for a 3-4-3; Marc Albrighton and Luke Thomas were patrolling the width as wing-backs, Iheanacho mixed with a three-man midfield.
After some time away due to injury, James Maddison finally started a game and impressed. Nevertheless, Iheanacho’s constant habit to drop deep hindered Maddison’s advanced playmaker role, which is unlike Vardy, once again.
Kelechi Iheanacho’s Leicester City future
Although, it would be harsh to say the former-Manchester City man should be sold following one game’s appraisal. Last season Iheanacho enjoyed his best at King Power Stadium. His five goals and three assists, including two vital goals against Villa in the Carabao Cup, helped Leicester to their second-best Premier League finish.
Unfortunately for Iheanacho, sitting on the bench behind Vardy is not going to be good enough. After being slapped the label as ‘Vardy’s replacement’ in 2017, the ceiling he arrived with is yet to be reached.
Should he be sold? Not now. Is it a possibility? Maybe.
Following Wednesday’s cup defeat, Rodgers confirmed his uncertainty on whether the Foxes will have the money to add another striker. That fact technically boosts Iheanacho’s career in the East Midlands.
Speaking to BBC Radio Leicester, the Northern Irishman said:
“I’m not sure we’ll have the resources for that. We’ll look in the market but we’ll be limited to what we can do.
“We’re limited to what we can do but we’ll work with the players that are here.”
With this in mind, could Iheanacho possibly be sold before October 5 to free up resources? Or is this statement from the gaffer favourable to Iheanacho’s Leicester City status?