Kelechi Iheanacho wants to make the most of his chances at Leicester City after enjoying a resurgence last season to resemble once more, the prodigious talent that exploded on the global stage with a Golden Ball-winning performance at the 2013 FIFA U17 World that provoked a massive scramble for his signature, eventually won by Manchester City.
Iheanacho’s time at Manchester City was respectable enough but manager Pep Guardiola had other plans and sold the Nigerian to Leicester City in 2017.
It has been a tough grind at the King Power for the 23-year-old who scored a paltry two goals in 35 appearances in the 2018-19 season and fell out of favour after Claude Puel was axed for Brendan Rodgers towards the end of that campaign.
With his career in the doldrums, there were genuine fears about his future with the 2015 Premier League champions after Rodgers signed Ayoze Perez from Newcastle United last summer with many interpreting the signing as a sign the Nigerian could be surplus to requirements.
But Iheanacho responded brilliantly last season, scoring 10 goals in 26 appearances and weighing in with a further 4 assists in all competitions to appear more like the player signed with much fanfare for £25million from Manchester City in 2017.
That return has already surpassed his best goals return for Leicester which he managed in his debut season and the player has credited his everyone at the club with helping him find his form again.
“The previous season, I was working hard, but this season has been good, with the help of everyone, my team-mates, the staff. Everyone has really helped me this season,” Iheanacho told Leicester’s website.
“We are happy. I am really working hard and hopefully I can get more goals.”
Even with his resurgence, Iheanacho who scored 21 goals in 64 appearances for Manchester City has had to play second fiddle, to Jamie Vardy, who like Iheanacho, has rediscovered his best form under Rodgers.
Vardy ended the season as the Premier League’s top marksman plundering 23 goals in 35 league outings to cart home the Golden Boot.
At 33, Vardy is closer to the end than the beginning of his career but his prowess in front of goal remains undiminished and he undoubtedly is the Foxes’ number one striker. Iheanacho might have to endure being in the former Three Lions striker shadow for a while longer before assuming his mantle as heir.
The Nigerian who has been linked with a move away from the King Power this summer isn’t bothered about his status behind the Englishman, however, preferring to focus on working as hard as he can, bidding his time and grabbing his opportunity when it comes.
“It’s been a good season, to be fair,” Iheanacho said. “Pre-season and getting the work done in pre-season (and) getting into the season, it’s not been easy, but I need to keep working hard and I’ll get my chance.
“It’s been a good season. It’s a good group of boys, they’re like family, with everyone together and the staff as well. Everyone is happy doing well. (When) the chance comes, you have to take it.”