Leicester City will open contract talks with hotshot striker Kelechi Iheanacho this summer as a reward for his exceptional form. He has just over one year remaining on the contract he signed when he first swapped Man City for Leicester in 2017.
Brendan Rodgers said “He’s definitely someone we would want to have. You’ve seen the development and the improvements, that’s what you aim to have, a squad that is getting better and that can contribute for you. I’m pretty sure there will be something organised between him and his representatives. You’re seeing a young player now at the top of his game. When you look back to when he was playing at Manchester City, a young developing player, he wasn’t playing so much, so didn’t have a lot of first-team experience. He’s come to here for a big fee and then he’s coming into a team that’s playing with one of the league’s great strikers. There’s been adaption for him. I can only speak from the two years I’ve been here. His work and his ambition to become a better player is there. He’s a wonderful character in the squad, he’s smiling, he’s always happy. And whatever role he’s been asked to play, he’s played it very well. It’s clear to see he plays better when there’s someone up there around him and sometimes that takes you, as a coach a bit of time to see that when you’re learning about players. The combination between him and Jamie (Vardy) has been very good. And for him at 24, there’s still a lot of improvement left.”
Even though Maddison is now fit, Iheanacho looks set to keep his place this weekend, the forward developing into a player who must start after years as a deputy, both at City and up in Manchester. With City in the market for a striker in the summer – the club looking to a time when Vardy will no longer be able to lead the line every game – Iheanacho’s competition will increase. But he has shown a resilience to reach this point, Rodgers has said.
Brendan Rodgers said “What he felt at Manchester City was maybe what he has felt here for a few years. He clearly was the understudy there to some incredible talents like Sergio Aguero. That is always going to be very difficult and likewise when he came here. But there is a role and very important role for him here which is why he has never become too down. It is recognising and acknowledging the important role he has to play here, whether he is on his own or up there with Jamie or another striker. It is natural he improves and develops. He has kept a great attitude and is a really committed player. And he is a very resilient player. You will have seen moments this season like away at Palace (in December, when he missed a penalty) where he didn’t have his best game and looked as if his confidence was down. That is our job as managers and coaches to elevate that back up to make him feel important, because he is. At 24, he is developing and showing a really high level, the aim is to continue that.”
City host Iheanacho’s former club, and the current Premier League leaders, Manchester City on Saturday evening, with the Nigerian the man making the headlines. Seven goals in four games for Iheanacho have kept City on course for Champions League qualification and have helped them book a place in the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1982. His contribution was particularly timely, with James Maddison and Harvey Barnes both watching from the sidelines and with City in desperate need of attacking quality. Iheanacho has provided that, earning him the Premier League’s player of the month award for March, and, at the season’s end, a new deal.
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