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What Happened To Kelechi Iheanacho?
Kelechi Iheanacho was once heralded as the saviour for Nigerian football, and a player that could take the new crop of youngsters on to the next level. However, what has followed has been nothing short of a disaster, and his career is in desperate need of a massive shakeup.
During his time with Manchester City, he was claimed by most Citizens fans as a player that could soon replace the ageing Sergio Aguero, while they also jibed Manchester United fans by claiming their youngster was better on every level than Marcus Rashford. However, the last couple of years have made a mockery of that claim. But, where exactly did it go wrong for the Nigerian?
The striker was born in Imo and played his early football at Taye Academy. He would go on to achieve great success at this stage of his career as he would excel at the 2013 FIFA U17 World Cup. His performances at this competition saw a host of teams from around Europe look to acquire his services.
He knocked back FC Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Arsenal in favour of a move to Manchester City where he signed a pre-contract agreement ahead of signing for the club on his 18th birthday.
Iheanacho finally joined up with the City academy in January 2014, before going on the Citizens pre-season tour ahead of the 2014-15 season. He would make an immediate impression on USA, the country where football is most known to be the sport that moves the NFL Superbowl wages. Still, he played in the 4-1 win over MLS team Sporting Kansas City, and then found the net against AC Milan.
His senior debut for City would come in 2015 when he played in the final stages against Watford before scoring his first goal for the club in September of the same year against Swansea. His stock rose further when he scored a hat-trick in the FA Cup against Aston Villa before he would end the season with a tally of eight Premier League goals. That meant that he ended the season with the best goals-to-game ratio in the league as he was finding the net every 93.9 minutes.
The 2016-17 season started along the same lines as he scored in the winner in the Manchester derby, and joined an exclusive list of players to score ten Premier League goals before the age of 20.
Other players on that list include Wayne Rooney, Nicolas Anelka and Michael Owen. He was named as a nomination for the FIFA Golden Boy award in 2016, but he eventually lost out to Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches, who is now at Lille.
His playing time in the second half of the season was limited, and it seemed destined that he would be leaving City following the end of Pep Guardiola’s debut season at the Etihad.
It came as a surprise to most when Guardiola was happy to let the Nigerian go as it appeared from the outside that he was excelling for the club. However, the Spaniard obvious saw something that didn’t feel right, and he moved on to Leicester City for £25 million. He scored his first goal for the Foxes a month later against Leeds United in the EFL Cup, but he has failed to continue his form in the league since making the move.
The 23-year-old has only scored 12 goals in 65 appearances for the Foxes since his arrival. At present, he couldn’t be further down the pecking order in this exciting Leicester City team being favourites for a top-four finish at the end of the season.
He will have to look for a move away as he doesn’t seem to be part of Brendan Rodgers’ plans. There is still time for him to resurrect his career, but where he does it will be anyone’s guess.