African All Stars

Where would Leicester City be if Rodgers had respected Iheanacho?

13:13 EAT 29/12/2021
Kelechi Iheanacho Leicester 2021-22
Could the Nigeria striker have helped the Foxes enjoy a stronger start to the season if he'd played more often?

Leicester City lost 6-3 to the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at the weekend but Kelechi Iheanacho performances in that game raised a lot of talking points among the club's fans and subsequently saw him included in Brendan Rodgers' starting XI for the victory over Liverpool.

The Nigerian finished the 2020/21 season as the club's most potent attacker, even ahead of Jamie Vardy.

Most of his 12 Premier League goals came in the second half of the season when Vardy battled fitness issues.

His total of 28 goal involvements in 39 games across all competitions in the 2020/21 season was the best attacking return of any Leicester player.

However, Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers has chosen to keep Iheanacho largely confined to the bench at the King Power stadium this season - even when Leicester struggled to create upfront - with his start against Liverpool on Tuesday a rare exception.

Leicester due a resurgence?

Leicester currently sit in ninth place after 18 games - a ranking that would be different if they'd won some fixtures that have gone away from them this term.

Rodgers' tactics have not been very effective this season as the defence has also been lacklustre, but the Northern Irishman's decision to keep the club's most prolific attacker in the calendar year on the bench raises a lot of eyebrows.

It also doesn't help his case that in the past three seasons this is the lowest Leicester have been placed on the table at this point in a campaign.

Iheanacho could have been the difference-maker - like last season

Followers of the club could try to justify his omission from the squad with a number of reasons, but none will take away the fact that he has shown class whenever he is called upon, as he showed again agianst Liverpool as Reds defender Joel Matip struggled to contain the striker.

He remains the Foxes' go-to forward for cup competitions but has also delivered more often than not when called upon in the Premier League.

This season, Iheanacho has recorded six goal contributions (two goals and four assists) from his first 13 Premier League games, despite only completing 90 minutes twice.

Comparing his performances in the Premier League last season and his lack of regular gametime this season, Rodgers and Leicester are in danger of gross underachievement.

With the Nigerian playing more regularly, he could have perhaps offered more in attack that could have seen Leicester in the top-four discussions, as has been the case at this stage of the campaign in recent seasons.

While Ademola Lookman, who replaced Iheanacho against Liverpool on Tuesday, ultimately proved the difference-maker, the latter's interplay with Vardy appeared to get the best out of the latter during their time on the pitch together.

It must be the way forward for the Foxes under Rodgers during the second half of the campaign, once Iheanacho returns from the Africa Cup of Nations.

However it may be, Iheanacho will surely be missed when he leaves the King Power for Cameroon to represent the Super Eagles in January.