Leicester City ace Kelechi Iheanacho has been used sparingly this season by Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers to the utter consternation of the club’s fans, begging the question of whether he is seen by the manager as a key component of their squad this season.
After arriving at the King Power Stadium from Manchester City for around £25 million in 2017, Iheanacho failed to nail down a starting spot in the team due to the club’s switch to playing a lone striker as opposed to the two-striker role of the previous seasons. The then 21-year-old suffered a serious dip in form and confidence and was left out of the Super Eagles squad for the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
The appointment of former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers as Leicester manager in the 2019/20 season marked the beginning of the Nigerian striker’s improved fortunes at the club. Iheanacho played a starring role as the club secured its first FA Cup title in 2020/21 and ended the season as the club’s highest goalscorer with 17 goals in all competitions. He also became the first player in English Premier League history to score on every day of the week in a single season.
Despite going through a full pre-season with the club, it came as a surprise when the Nigerian striker was only named on the bench for Leicester City in their FA Community Shield match against Manchester City. With the game goalless, he came off the bench in the 78th minute and won and scored the penalty that gave his side a 1-0 win and the Community Shield title.
Since then, Iheanacho has only gone on to play 287 minutes in eight appearances in all competitions for Leicester City, with 177 of the minutes coming in their Carabao Cup third round match against Millwall and their Europa League clash against Napoli. He has played only 110 minutes in the English Premier League this season as he continues to be overlooked by Rodgers. His only starts this season have come in the Carabao Cup and Europa League.
While the long-term absence of winger Harvey Barnes was an important reason for Iheanacho starting so many games last season, the striker proved himself to be useful for Leicester City time and again. His goal contribution ratio of 1 G/A every 65 minutes for club and country this season shows that his clinical streak is still active, and he deserves to start more games for the team.
With Iheanacho approaching 25 years of age, it may be time for the Leicester City ace to begin to look at other options if he would not be assured of a regular starting role at the King Power Stadium under Rodgers.