From Academy player to £25million Leicester City signing: the meteoric rise of Kelechi Iheanacho

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After a long drawn transfer saga, former Nigeria junior International Kelechi Iheanacho completed his move to former English Premier league champions Leicester City on Thursday in a deal worth £25m.

The move made him the most expensive Nigerian player ever. Naijafootballplus takes a look at the rise of one of Nigeria’s brightest talents to grace the Premier League.

Best among his peers

In the 2013 FIFA U17 World cup in UAE, Kelechi played a key role for Nigeria as they won the trophy for a record 4 times. He netted 6 goals and emerged the tournament’s most valuable player.

Due to his talent, Kelechi won Africa’s young player of the year award twice in 2013 and 2016 respectively.

Instant hero at the Etihad

The tenacious forward quickly became a
popular figure at Manchester City – scoring within seconds of replacing Wilfried Bony in the 89th minute in a 1-0 success over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in September 2015.
Hat- trick hero

Iheanacho’s first career hat-trick came in a dominant 4-0 Emirates FA Cup victory at Aston Villa the following January.

Fulfilling a dream

As the young striker’s stock in the game
continued to rise at a rapid pace, he fulfilled a childhood dream to play in the UEFA Champions League at the semi-finals stage in a 0-0 first leg draw against Real Madrid in 2016.

Stats to judge

He netted 14 goals in 35 appearances for the Citizens and ended 2015/16 with the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player in the Premier League, averaging a goal every 93.9 minutes.

UEFA nomination

His strong performance in 2016 made Europe football governing body Uefa nominate him for FIFA’s Golden Boy award in 2016. Although it was eventually won by Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches.


Managing Expectations

The Foxes will certainly welcome his cutting edge. While Jamie Vardy finished the past campaign with a flourish to take his tally to 16 goals, Riyad Mahrez was the only other Leicester player to hit double figures (10).

Manager Craig Shakespeare’s alternative centre forward options, Islam Slimani (eight), Shinji Okazaki (six), Ahmed Musa (four) and Leonardo Ulloa (one) struggled to consistently trouble defences.

Hopefully, Kelechi will find consistent game time and an opportunity to prove he has what it takes to be more than just a bit-part goal-grabber from the bench.

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