Leicester City are having a fantastic campaign in the Premier League. They are 3rd on the table with only five games left and so they are a solid candidate to play the Champions League next year. The squad is full of quality, but Kelechi Iheanacho is the trending guy in the club. ‘Senior Man’, as he is called in the team, is the ‘Foxes’ top scorer (17 goals) so far in the season.
This is the 4th season of the 24 years old Nigerian at the King Power Stadium. He was traded from Manchester City as a big promise, but he had not manage to boost until now: 21 goals in three years, 10 in the 19/20 season campaign, and too much irregularity made people think that Iheanacho was a fiasco.
Similar situations have taken place in other strikers when they have gotten stuck with scoring issues, and that is natural: in the end, that is the aspect they are measured of. However, Kelechi has always kept the confidence on himself as he pointed out in an interview to The Guardian (04/16/21). “The manager is the No 1 person in this because he keeps encouraging me to keep going, to keep working hard and take my chances when they come”, he said.
Brendan Rodgers (Leicester Head Coach) stood out his player´s excellent attitude and the affection by all his teammates. He also talked about his abilities in an interview to Sky Sports (04/04/21):“[…]. How he receives the ball. His strength. His finishing ability. His anticipation as a striker. You are seeing all of these things now because he is playing with confidence”.
Ihenacho has proven himself to be a completed forward, able to make fast runs and move backwards to receive the ball. Furthermore, he has showed to have an incredible scoring capacity. The goal he scored against Crystal Palace last night proves it.
The main factor that has boosted is amazing current shape is Rogers´ tactical variation after their defeat against Arsenal on February 28th. According to the Englishman coach, Maddison and Barnes absences forced him to change the system as a way to keep the balance on the field.
Leicester are now playing on a 1-3-5-2 draw where Iheanacho and Vardy form a lethal attacking duo. “Jamie is the best partner you can have along forward”, said the Nigerian. This way, it is not a simple coincidence that Ihenacho has scored 13 goals in 9 games (including the FA Cup) after this switch on the system. In addition, he is the player who has scored the most goals in the last Premier League fixtures, with a goal per game rating.
Kelechi was named ‘Player of the Month’ in the Premier League in March. He has found the perfect context for his football and the confidence that Rodgers and him always had is paying off now. However, the ‘Foxes’ coach also warned that he has not reached his full potential yet: “He has still got so much development but I think he is enjoying his football which is important”.
We might be ahead of Ihenacho´s definitive confirmation and so that he becomes a guarantee striker from now on. This would be great for Leicester, as they will need a solid roster for next season if they secure their appearance in the Champions League. We will be watching (and enjoying).
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.