Wilfried Ndidi And Kelechi Iheanacho Experience Contrasting Fortunes At Leicester City
Published: November 12, 2019
Wilfried Ndidi And Kelechi Iheanacho Experience Contrasting Fortunes At Leicester CityLeicester City are enjoying their finest ever start to a Premier League season. That’s right: even better than their remarkable march to the title four seasons ago.

Sitting third in the standings behind only leaders Liverpool and champions Manchester City, Leicester have made themselves top-four contenders with their free-scoring football.

Indeed, only Manchester City have scored more goals than Leicester during this campaign so far, no doubt helped by one of their finest ever results: the record-equalling 9-0 win at Southampton in October.

While the seemingly perpetual struggles of other top-four rivals – Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United – are no doubt enhancing Leicester’s chances of obtaining Champions League football for next season, it is Leicester’s squad brimming with genuinely top talent that suggests they should last the pace.

Central to Leicester’s rise – literally and figuratively – is none other than Nigerian centre midfielder Wilfred Ndidi. Signed from Belgian club Genk in 2017 and tasked with the unenviable role of filling the void left one season earlier by N’Golo Kante, Ndidi has emerged as the bedrock of the Leicester midfield and has no doubt become the successor to the French World Cup winner.

Sky the limit for Ndidi

Ndidi’s first season was certainly one of adjustment as he found his feet in a new team and new league, but last year and so far during this campaign, he has been faultless.

With the ability to break up play, create attacks, control midfield, and contribute with the odd goal, Ndidi’s importance to Leicester is symbolized by the face he played every game last season and has only missed one game this term.

At just 22 years old, it appears the sky is the limit for this talented midfielder, and it would not be a surprise to see one of Europe’s biggest clubs prise him away from the King Power Stadium in the not too distant future.

However, for the other Nigerian player in the Leicester squad, circumstances could not be more different. Kelechi Iheanacho moved to the club the same summer as Ndidi, having forged a reputation at Manchester City as a clinical finisher.

The striker’s introduction to the Premier League while at City proved record-breaking as Iheanacho, at the age of 19,  earned the best goals-to-minutes ratio of any player in history to score at least 10 league goals.

By December 2016, across all competitions Iheanacho had scored 19 goals in 18 starts and he looked primed to become the long-term successor to Sergio Aguero.

Limited chances for Iheanacho

Despite his remarkable start, Iheanacho found chances increasingly limited as Pep Guardiola began to shape his squad, so the move to Leicester seemed the ideal place to fight for more regular action.

Yet, in his two full seasons at the King Power, Iheanacho has made just 16 starts across all competitions, while this season he has played just twice in the League Cup and is yet to feature for a single minute in the Premier League.

With Jamie Vardy the undisputed first-choice striker and Ayoze Perez used in support, it appears that Iheanacho needs to leave the club to reboot his career and for the good of the Nigeria national team.

While he may only be 23 years old and with plenty of time to get his career back on track and fulfil his enormous potential, Iheanacho’s next move has to be chosen with the utmost care.

And with any noteworthy decision – whether it’s something major like deciding the next career move, or something more recreational like selecting a new online casino – the proper research needs to be done to ensure the best possible outcome.

Time to move on?

For Iheanacho, the priority has to be the near guarantee of first team football while competing in a competitive league in Europe.

Speculation emerged in October that Turkish giants Besiktas were preparing a mid-season approach and that could be an attractive move: play in a competitive European league for a big club and get regular game time.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has said recently that Iheanacho does have a long-term future at the club and insisted he highly rates the striker.

However, from Iheanacho’s perspective, he risks stunting his development if he is not playing week-in, week-out. He is too talented and at a crucial juncture in his career to be sitting on the bench.

Additionally, for the future health of the Nigeria team, it is imperative that Iheanacho is playing regularly and scoring goals.

Following the international retirement of Odion Ighalo, the Super Eagles have become light on options and experience in the forward roles, Ahmed Musa aside.

Iheanacho undoubtedly has the ability to lead the Nigeria line now and at the next generation of major tournaments, and the Nigerian Football Federation are sure to be among the closest observers watching on to see how his career unfolds.

With Ndidi a lock for both club and country, it is important that Iheanacho follows suit. It just seems unlikely at this stage that it will be at Leicester City.

Igho Kingsley

Photo Credit : lcfc.com
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