Tuesday, 6th December 2022
<To guardian.ng
Breaking News:

Can Leicester City be fired into top four by Kelechi Iheanacho?

Kelechi Iheanacho has always been considered one of the best Nigerian players around, and the 25-year-old is taking on extra responsibilities with Leicester City

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP)

Kelechi Iheanacho has always been considered one of the best Nigerian players around, and the 25-year-old is taking on extra responsibilities with Leicester City over the past couple of seasons. The Foxes ace was believed to be close to the exit at the King Power Stadium after an underwhelming first couple of years at the club.

However, over the past 18 months, he has showcased just how important he can be for the Foxes, playing an important role in their FA Cup success against Chelsea and scoring the winner against former club Manchester City in the Community Shield. But, could he play a huge role if the club are to finish in the top four this season?

Extra Pressure On Nigerian Ace

Iheanacho has been a regular in the Premier League since making his breakthrough in the 2015-16 season with Manchester City. However, following the arrival of Pep Guardiola at the Etihad, the 25-year-old was sold to Leicester. It was a slow start to his career at the King Power, as he scored just nine goals in his first three seasons. But, he began playing a more prominent role with the club from the 2020-21 season. He scored 19 goals in 39 games last season, and picked up the slack left by Jamie Vardy.

That had been an Achilles heel for the Foxes, as they have constantly struggled for goals if their English ace hasn’t been at the top of his game. Iheanacho’s performances have continued to impress at the start of the 2021-22 season, as he has already scored three goals in 12 games in all competitions. The pressure has been slightly eased on the Nigerian following the arrival of Patson Daka, but he will still have an important role to play if the Foxes are to end the season in the Champions League places.

Iheanacho Offers More Than Goals

Many will be aware that the role of a modern day striker is far greater than simply scoring goals. Iheanacho offers more than just putting the ball into the back of the net, which could explain why he is as high as 100/1 with some bookmakers’ Vegas odds to win the Golden Boot in the Premier League. The Nigerian is an important role of the Foxes gameplan both with and without the ball.

He is a perfect striker for the high press that the Foxes like to play with, as he has the energy in the final third that matches that of Jamie Vardy, which allows the club to win the ball high on the pitch. However, assists have also been an important part of Iheanacho’s game, as he has recorded 20 in 151 Premier League games.

Can Leicester Finish In The Top Four?

The aim for Leicester over the past couple of seasons has been to finish in the Champions League places. However, they have fallen short in that challenge in each of the last two seasons. This term they have added extra quality, and will be hoping to have a fully fit squad throughout the season, which will only enhance their chances.

Leicester are currently seen as seventh favorites to finish in the Champions League places, behind both Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham. However, if they maintain the form that they have shown over recent weeks, then there isn’t any reason why they can’t fight for the top four place.