The Telegraph are reporting that Leicester City are planning an ambitious move for Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho.
The Nigerian forward broke into the side under Manuel Pelligrini in 15/16, but has been unable to kick on since last summer’s managerial change.
Under Pep Guardiola, the 20-year-old mustered just 525 Premier League minutes, almost a third less than in the previous season. It has become clear that Iheanacho has fallen down the pecking order at the Etihad. With Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus already preferred, the club continues to pursue Alexis Sanchez – as covered by Manchester Evening News.
If the Foxes are successful in signing the striker it would be an impressive coup as The Telegraph article adds that there is interest from West Ham United, Everton and Crystal Palace. Considering the constant inflation of transfer fees, which has already led to Leicester spending £17 million on Harry Maguire, as per BBC Sport, the suggested £25 million fee would signify good value.
Last summer Leicester entered the transfer window as champions of England and struggled to cope with the pressure of making big signings. Claudio Ranieri brought in Ahmed Musa and Islam Slimani for £16.5 million and £25.5 million, respectively, despite neither having Premier League experience – both have failed to justify their price tags so far.
This time round the strategy appears to be set on acquiring players who have featured in England’s top flight and despite his limited game time, Iheanacho fits the bill. Last season his sparse involvement saw a return of one league goal every 131 minutes and a goal in Europe every 52.
Whilst these numbers are impressive, they must be assessed with caution due to the small sample available. For sake of comparison, it is worth looking at Marcus Rashford who also broke through during the 2015/16 campaign. The Englishman plays just across town, primarily in the same position, and is just one year younger than his Nigerian counterpart.
In that season, Rashford stole the headlines. When Manchester United had nobody else to call on the youngster stepped up to score crucial goals, netting on his debut in the Europa League, Premier League, League Cup and for England.
Yet, his scoring return, in terms of minutes per goal, ranked him behind Iheanacho – who found the net almost twice as frequently. Under Manuel Pellegrini, City’s youngster scored every 94 minutes in the league, compared to Rashford’s 172 minutes.
Since then, the Englishman has been given much greater opportunities to prove himself, making 32 league appearances for United; as it is now clear that the Nigeria International is surplus to requirements at City, a move away would be ideal for his development.
If Iheanacho can replicate the form he has shown in short bursts, when playing regularly, his addition would transform Leicester’s attack. £25 million could easily prove to be a bargain; the youngster will be keen to prove his ability to those at City, who may well regret letting him go.