By : Mr Jay
Watching our supposed “Golden boy” introduced into the game on the 80th minute against lower league opposition Fleetwood town, I could only but wonder how the golden ball winner at the 2013 FIFA U 17 World Cup, a player that was once considered to be the next big thing in football, compared to Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford all through all through last season has ended up as someone who is now finding playing time hard to come by, even against lower league opponents.
For a player who at his early developmental stage was compared to other clinical finishers such as Inzaghi, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, and Ruud Vanisteroy. It is only surprising that his career seems to be heading south. Let’s take a look at his career so far, to see what he could or should be doing better.
After the FIFA U17 tournament in 2013, a host of clubs were in a tussle for his signature, clubs such as Arsenal, Porto, and Manchester City. As a fan I always wanted him to move to a club that would help in develop into a world class player that he could be instead of to a club with stiff competition and the pressure to give results every season. Alas he chose Manchester City in January 2014 ahead of the other teams, a decision many think was the beginning of the end for his career, but with the world class training facilities and huge wages involved, one can see why he chose City ahead of other teams.
Fast forward to 12th September 2015, when he came off the bench to score his first goal in a competitive match for his team, a late winner against Crystal Palace, also scoring his first hatrick against AstonVilla in January of the preceding year. 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 93.9 minutes. In all competitions he finished with a record of 14 goals and 5 assists from 35 appearances, although he only started 11 of these games. His goals total also meant he ended the season as City’s third-highest scorer. For many believers like the writer of this article, we believed that he could have a fighting chance in this star studded City team.
Then came the new coach Pep for the 2016-2017 season, this cause many to fear for his place in the team albeit he was always a substitute. Pep’s arrival at first didn’t hamper his role in the first team squad, he featured in the Manchester derby that year, scoring what turned out to be the winning goal that day. Although things really started going south for him upon the arrival of Brazilian star Gabriel Jesus during the January transfer window, over the course of the second part of the season it became clear that Kelechi no longer had a place in the first team squad.
Then came the summer alongside numerous suitors for his glaring talents. Borussia Dortmund, West ham, Leicester , and some other clubs registered their interest in the striker. This point is, and still remains the pivotal point in his career.
The decision to sign for Leicester was one that came as a surprise to many, given that the team has a quality home grown hero as the spearhead of their attack in the person of Jaime Vardy. He reportedly signed a £115,000 a week contract with the former premier league champions. Many still argue that he was wrongly advised when changing clubs, stating he went for the money instead of playing time, since it doesn’t make any sense swapping the Man city bench for Leicester’s.
Over the course of the 2017-2018 season, things seem to have gone from bad to worse for the striker, managerial changes at Leicester haven’t even helped him, as both Craig Shakespeare and Claude Puel have struggled to find him a place on the team. Puel was recently quoted saying: “Kelechi’s a young player, has a lot to improve on in different aspects of his play.
“It’s difficult because he’s behind Jamie Vardy. It’s difficult to play behind him.
“I Shinji Okazaki is also playing well. And there is also Islam Slimani.”
With the January transfer window in full swing the club seems to be all but ready to cut their losses by disposing their £25m man just five months after he was acquired, while clubs such as Besiktaš of Turkey already showing interest.
Given the way his career is looking, all hope isn’t lost, one can only wish he moves to a club where he can exhibit the talents we saw in him in the past, but one still wonders what would have happened if he had chosen to move to a smaller team back in the earlier stages of his career, where he could have been afforded the opportunity to truly harness his talents, and develop into a top player. An example is Davidson Sanchez now at Tottenham, he rejected a move to Barcelona at the earlier stage of his career, now he is now a main stay in the Spurs team.
With the world cup now a few months away we can only hope he gets a good five months of active football under his belt, because the nation can not afford to take players off form to the tournament .