A Nigerian Success? – Why Kelechi Iheanacho Will Make It Big At Leicester City
Leicester City have completed the transfer of Manchester City’s young striker Kelechi Iheanacho. The 20-year old forward has signed a 5-year deal with the Foxes, after a fee of £25million was agreed between Man City and Leicester.
Iheanacho had been tipped as one of the best youngsters to have come through the City academy in the recent years, and had lived up to the hype in the past two seasons as well. But he found game time hard to come by under Pep Guardiola since the turn of the year. And with the situation unlikely to improve, the youngster has rightly decided to leave the club for the 2015/16 Premier League champions.
The Nigerian international burst onto the scenes a couple of years ago under former boss Manuel Pellegrini and made immediate impact in the senior team, scoring the winner in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in only his second Premier League appearance. Iheanacho did not look back from then on, as he finished the 2015/16 season with 14 goals and 5 assists from 35 games in all competitions. His 8 league goals from 26 outings (753 minutes) came at a highly impressive rate of a goal every 94.13 minutes.
Iheanacho continued his form into his second season under his new boss Guardiola and showed good form, until Gabriel Jesus’ arrival changed everything. Post the Brazilian joining up with the Citizens in January this year, Iheanacho played just a meagre 139 minutes of first-team football. He finished the season with 7 goals and 3 assists in 29 games.
In his Manchester City career, Iheanacho played 64 games (2097 minutes), scoring 21 goals and bagging 8 assists, meaning he was directly involved in a goal every 72.31 minutes. Those are extremely impressive numbers for a 20-year old who wasn’t given a consistent run of games in the first team, indicating the immense levels of potential that Iheanacho possesses. The people at City seem to have recognised this and have hence included a £50million buyback clause as part of the deal with Leicester.
The Foxes, after a below-par campaign last time around, will be keen on bouncing back strongly and challenge for the European spots in the coming season. While their defence was in shambles for long phases last term, their attackers too did not cover themselves in glory.
Jamie Vardy struggled to reproduce the form that saw him fire the Foxes to the league title and Islam Slimani too struggled after a solid start. Shinji Okazaki just doesn’t get enough goals and the lesser said about Ahmed Musa, the better.
In Iheanacho, they have got a young and dynamic forward who has already proven his mettle on this stage. The 20-year old has demonstrated all the attributes needed to develop into a top marksman in the future and with regular playing time at Leicester, he is bound to scale great heights.
£25million for a 20-year old would have been deemed crazy a few years ago, but in the current day and age of the transfer market, considering Iheanacho’s age, potential and Premier League experience, the deal seems fair enough. If the Nigerian delivers on the promise that he has shown so far in his fledgling career, Leicester are going to reap the benefits for many years to come.