New signing Kelechi Iheanacho could be the difference in Leicester City being a top ten team next season
Despite a host of clubs interested in Kelechi Iheanacho's signature, Leicester's persistence was rewarded on 4th August with the coup of the 20-year-old forward from Manchester City. The Nigerian has joined the Foxes in a deal which will see him at the King Power Stadium until 2022.
A background of Leicester's New Number 8
Iheanacho breakthrough came in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where his performances for Nigeria attracted the attention of clubs across Europe, including Sporting Clube de Portugal, Arsenal and FC Porto.
Manchester City then became interested in a deal for Iheanacho in December 2012. Iheanacho travelled to England to discuss a possible transfer and signed a pre-contract agreement with the club. The agreement being he will sign his formal contract on the turn of his 18th birthday in October 2014.
After signing his formal contract in October, Iheanacho joined up with Manchester City's academy in January 2014.
On 10 August 2015, Iheanacho was included in Manchester City's matchday squad for the first game of the 2015/16 Premier League season against West Brom. A few weeks later, he made his competitive debut against Watford at the Etihad Stadium, replacing Raheem Sterling in the final minute of a 2–0 win.
He scored his first competitive goal on 12 September 2015, in an away match at Crystal Palace. He scored the only goal of the game in a 0–1 victory.
After a flurry of appearances, Iheanacho ended the 2015–16 season with eight Premier League goals and had the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player, averaging a goal every 93 minutes. His goals tally meant he ended the campaign as Manchester City's third-highest scorer.
Why Kelechi Iheanacho is a top signing for Leicester City
Kelechi Iheanacho has proved himself as a goalscorer in his early playing career so far. 11 of his 12 Premier League goals have been scored inside the penalty area, this befitting his playing style to that of a goal poacher. Iheanacho has a forward's instinct inside the box, he knows where to position himself, and knows exactly where the net is.
Since the 2015/16 season, Iheanacho has averaged a goal every 106 minutes - which still stands as one of the best minutes-per-goal ratios in the top flight to date.
He is more than just a goalscorer, however. Iheanacho also possesses creativity going forward, contributing to building attacks. His first touch is impressive, which links into his composure in front of goal.
Iheanacho will suit Leicester's counter attacking style of play, as he is a threat on the break with his intelligent movement and dribbling ability.
Move to Leicester City could be the perfect platform to fulfil his potential
As time went on at Manchester City, Kelechi Iheanacho's regular first-team opportunities were becoming increasingly harder to come by. This mainly due to not being overly favoured by current manager Pep Guardiola, plus the arrival of another forward in Gabriel Jesus last season.
Despite playing irregularly under both Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola, Iheanacho always looked capable of making an impact on the pitch, always looking to find an opening.
Iheanacho's limited game time during his time at Manchester City meant that he wasn't able to compete with the league's top goalscorers, but with an existing impressive goal chance conversion rate, the signs are Iheanacho has the potential to be up there with the league's hotshots.
His move to Leicester City could be the perfect platform for him to fulfil his potential, and Iheanacho might even have a point to prove in that he is better than just being an impact sub off the bench.
Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy could be a prolific pairing
Leicester's main man up to now has of course been striker Jamie Vardy, who is the main provider of the Foxes goals. Other than Vardy's 16 league goals in the last campaign, no other Leicester player managed to get into double figures.
Craig Shakespeare's other forward options, whom despite have pedigree were not particularly productive in front of goal. Islam Slimani (7), Shinji Okazaki (3), Ahmed Musa (2) and Leonardo Ulloa (1). Kelechi Iheanacho will offer a new dimension to the side, and the reliance of goals will be less put on the shoulders of Jamie Vardy.
Shinji Okazaki works very well alongside Vardy up front, and Okazaki will likely still be a regular feature for the Foxes given what he brings to the team. However, with the arrival of Iheanacho, this will be a welcome headache for boss Craig Shakespeare. For instance, Shakespeare now has the option of bringing Okazaki on later to reinstall some required energy into the side, if Iheanacho and Vardy are the starting front two.
Leicester's penultimate pre-season friendly against Borussia Monchengladbach at the King Power Stadium on last Friday was a possible sign of things to come; Iheanacho assisting Vardy for the Foxes equaliser.
The capture of Kelechi Iheanacho is such good transfer business from Shakespeare that it could prove to be the difference in Leicester City getting into those ever competitive top 10 places next season.