How has Iheanacho become so prolific?

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April 27, 2021
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    Kelechi IheanachoKelechi Iheanacho has either scored (11) or assisted (two) in eight of his last nine appearances for Leicester across all competitions

    Kelechi Iheanacho had to wait until 3 February for his first league goal of the season. Since then the Leicester City striker is the Premier League's top goalscorer.

    The Nigerian assisted the equaliser and scored the winner as the Foxes beat Crystal Palace 2-1 to gain a seven-point cushion in the race for a Champions League place.

    A far cry from a striker who had to wait 14 months for a Premier League goal from September 2018 to December 2019.

    He is the Foxes' top scorer this season with 17 goals, the first time since 2014-15 that Jamie Vardy has been in danger of not leading the way.

    "That [race to be top scorer] is not what we talk about," Iheanacho told BBC Sport. "As a team we work for each other, it doesn't matter who scores the goals.

    "There's so much to improve in games so I'll keep going, keep doing my best."

    Leicester 2-1 Crystal Palace: Rodgers full of praise for Iheanacho after 'incredible' goal

    Boss Brendan Rodgers said: "Over the last few months Kelechi has been absolutely incredible. It wasn't just his goal but his work-rate, he wants to press the game. He has no ego whatsoever and he works so hard."

    What's changed?

    Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie VardyKelechi Iheanacho is now Jamie Vardy's strike partner rather than understudy

    The turning point in Iheanacho's Leicester City career has been starting alongside Vardy up front.

    They only started eight games together last season and did not do so this campaign until 28 February – and even then it was only because of injuries to James Maddison and others. They have played every game together since.

    Nigeria's Iheanacho has scored 14 goals in his last 14 appearances, as many as he managed in his previous 76 for Leicester.

    Only Harry Kane (18) has been involved in more goals than Iheanacho (15) among Premier League players in all competitions this year.

    Former England international Karen Carney was watching the game for BBC Radio 5 Live and said: "I think Iheanacho's confidence has come because he knows when he plays he's not going to get substituted for Jamie Vardy.

    "As a player you're always looking over your shoulder thinking you are going to get taken off.

    "But because he's playing next to Jamie Vardy he's confident and that one goal turns into two and three."

    Rodgers said: "The top priority for me as a coach is helping players to develop. It's been difficult for Kels because of the style we normally played which was one striker – Jamie Vardy.

    "We had to change it round with injuries, he's come in and been exceptional. Not just his goals, he's so happy to work hard for the team and his quality is phenomenal."

    Kelechi Iheanacho started both games against Palace this season. In December's meeting (left) he had 22 touches and missed a penalty. In Monday's win he scored, assisted and had 46 touches of the ballKelechi Iheanacho started both games against Palace this season. In December's meeting (left) he had 22 touches and missed a penalty before being replaced by Vardy. In Monday's win he scored, assisted and had 46 touches of the ball

    Practiced finisher

    Iheanacho's PL record since joining Leicester
    Goals Shot conversion rate Touches in opposition box Expected goals
    2017-18 3 10.3% 36 4.2
    2018-19 1 5.6% 39 2.1
    2019-20 5 13.9% 76 6
    2020-21 10 23.3% 69 6.6

    Iheanacho has shown a potency in front of goal recently rarely seen in his career.

    His 10 Premier League goals this term outstrips his expected goals – the number of goals he would be expected to score from the chances he receives – by more than three goals, and his shot conversion rate is his highest since joining the Foxes.

    Carney said: "I was speaking to Emile Heskey about him and apparently he does these things in training, he's done it for a very, very long time. But he never really had the confidence when he was given the opportunity in games. That's changed.

    "That's shifted, he's now delivering in the games. That type of goal, in the pressure moments when he needs to deliver for his team, he's pulled it out of the bag and they've got three points from it."

    Foxes keeper Kasper Schmeichel told Sky Sports: "Kele is incredibly intelligent when it comes to his finishing – he knows how to shift and shoot so quickly, he's so good at the particular one where he shifts it and then puts it through the defender's legs and wrongfoots the goalkeeper.

    "He does it in training all the time. He's a nightmare in training to be fair. He's just a big strong lad who can put himself about, he's fast, he's got absolutely everything to be a top striker and he's showing it now, which is great."

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    304 commentsShowLatestOldestHighest RatedMost Replied

    • H

      Comment posted by Harryw, today at 07:20

      How has he become more prolific? Simply by getting more playing time and not being used as a sub more often than not. Obviously a good talent who has put in the hard work which is now paying off. He also hasn’t stropped off when things haven’t been going well and just got his head down and got on with it and is now reaping the rewards, a good role model for younger players.1485

      • T

        Reply posted by taking the mike, today at 07:52

        "How has he become more prolific? Simply by getting more playing time and not being used as a sub more often than not. Obviously a good talent who has put in the hard work which is now paying off. He also hasn’t stropped off when things haven’t been going well and just got his head down and got on with it and is now reaping the rewards, a good role model for younger players."taking the mike replied: You’ve obviously not looked at the stats in the article. In previous seasons his shot conversion rate wasnt great. Now its PROLIFIC.1437

      More replies (11)

    • O

      Comment posted by Oncha, today at 05:34

      Said it a long time ago. Iheanacho’s story would be like Mo Salah’s and even better. You needed to have seen him win the best player at the U-17 world tourney to believe he’s a talent for the future. There was a reason both Man U and Man city wanted him so badly at the time. He only needed those managing him to believe in him. No surprises at all.794

      • A

        Reply posted by aviron, today at 13:55

        "Said it a long time ago. Iheanacho’s story would be like Mo Salah’s and even better. You needed to have seen him win the best player at the U-17 world tourney to believe he’s a talent for the future. There was a reason both Man U and Man city wanted him so badly at the time. He only needed those managing him to believe in him. No surprises at all."aviron replied: He has a buy back clause in his contract so he may not be at Leicester next year.43

      More replies (2)

    • A

      Comment posted by A flock of opinions, today at 08:03

      Big respect to Iheanacho for making himself undroppable. Leicester deserve their position, let’s hope they can strengthen their team in the summer and not get raided by the rich.655

      • M

        Reply posted by MarcovdB, today at 12:48

        "Big respect to Iheanacho for making himself undroppable. Leicester deserve their position, let’s hope they can strengthen their team in the summer and not get raided by the rich."MarcovdB replied: And Barnes and Justin are coming back! Plus a few signings and fans back, looking forward to 2021/2022.120

      More replies (1)

    • N

      Comment posted by niyiak, today at 01:17

      “Iheanacho has shown a potency in front of goal recently rarely seen in his career.”
      Really? Check out his U-17 World Cup Records, and even his goal to minutes ratio at City645

      • M

        Reply posted by More on this story, today at 06:26

        "”Iheanacho has shown a potency in front of goal recently rarely seen in his career.”Really? Check out his U-17 World Cup Records, and even his goal to minutes ratio at City"More on this story replied: He’s still ai City, just a nicer one!8822

      More replies (12)

    • S

      Comment posted by SpinR, today at 08:38

      Well Done Ketchi ⚽️⚽️⚽️ And we’ll done Brendan for being a good manager ✅✅✅515

      • M

        Reply posted by mr grumpy in Blackpool, today at 11:18

        "Well Done Ketchi ⚽️⚽️⚽️ And we’ll done Brendan for being a good manager ✅✅✅"mr grumpy in Blackpool replied: That is not what they are saying in Glasgow who they regard as a Traitor who left them in a mess at Celtic before running away for guess what,”Money,Money,Money”.Stay clear of Glasgow Brendan842

      More replies (11)

    • H

      Comment posted by Hood, today at 08:15

      That was one hell of a goal last night. Needs to watched in real time.421

      • Removed comment
    • L

      Comment posted by lawman, today at 07:16

      He’s always been a quality striker it’s just he’s getting more game play now..
      Struggled to get into the first team when he first arrived from Manchester City.
      Still much more to come from him.
      He’s a quality striker.351

    • W

      Comment posted by WIthrespect, today at 08:33

      its called getting a run of games, doing his job and being a lot more confident.

      BBC prolific – im pleased for him but let’s remember the same headline has been used for Calvert Lewin and Bamford this season even though both are now struggling for goals.

      BBC do love to go over board4111

    • J

      Comment posted by JamesConway, today at 07:17

      The article doesn’t explain why so he’s so proflic so to confirm. Due to the injury to Harvey Barnes we changed our formation from 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 and Kels now gets game time. More playing time = more chances to score = more confidence n goals scored.312

      • T

        Reply posted by taking the mike, today at 07:53

        "The article doesn’t explain why so he’s so proflic so to confirm. Due to the injury to Harvey Barnes we changed our formation from 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 and Kels now gets game time. More playing time = more chances to score = more confidence n goals scored."taking the mike replied: You’ve obviously not looked at the stats in the article. In previous seasons his shot conversion rate wasnt great. Now its PROLIFIC.413

      More replies (2)

    • D

      Comment posted by Dellard, today at 08:17

      Quite simple really – KI can’t play as a lone striker, but since Leicester switched from 1 up front to a 3-5-2 he’s been lethal.230

      • M

        Reply posted by mr grumpy in Blackpool, today at 08:45

        "Quite simple really – KI can’t play as a lone striker, but since Leicester switched from 1 up front to a 3-5-2 he’s been lethal."mr grumpy in Blackpool replied: For once a post from someone who understands the game unlike most on this silly forum.Rogers plays horses for courses.Trouble is,like some of them horses I back,they fade before the finishing line.C’est la vie!94

      More replies (1)

    • V

      Comment posted by Vox Populi, today at 08:47

      I quite liked him as a very young player at Man City. He always had that potential. I remember a few years ago there was a Rashford v Iheanacho debate in the media, who was the best young gun in Manchester. I was surprised City sold him as I thought he would naturally replace Aguero.210

      • T

        Reply posted by The Thursday Nighters, today at 09:35

        "I quite liked him as a very young player at Man City. He always had that potential. I remember a few years ago there was a Rashford v Iheanacho debate in the media, who was the best young gun in Manchester. I was surprised City sold him as I thought he would naturally replace Aguero."The Thursday Nighters replied: That debate didn’t last very long then…36

      More replies (1)

    • P

      Comment posted by Panda, today at 00:11

      City let this star go

      Glad he is doing well now in a team that wants him246

      • M

        Reply posted by Mczmus, today at 00:28

        "City let this star goGlad he is doing well now in a team that wants him"Mczmus replied: As much as i like Guardiola, he missed out in recognising this talented player,226

      More replies (21)

    • M

      Comment posted by mightonedayhappen, today at 08:10

      It’s because he’s playing in a front two. Brendan Rogers himself says it but this gets little focus in the article. You could see it when he was at city he was very good in a partnership but he struggles to lead the line on his own.192

      • E

        Reply posted by EJVF96, today at 13:40

        "It’s because he’s playing in a front two. Brendan Rogers himself says it but this gets little focus in the article. You could see it when he was at city he was very good in a partnership but he struggles to lead the line on his own."EJVF96 replied: Credit to Rogers for finding a way to play a new system using the players available to consolidate pursuit of top 4.

        MOT20

    • J

      Comment posted by jackofspades, today at 08:32

      Should of showed his shot conversion whilst at city, it was very good. It was only a matter of time and right system before he got back to that172

    • N

      Comment posted by Nick Matthew, today at 07:23

      Another young player that Pep did not give playing time to.216

      • T

        Reply posted by the truth, today at 07:40

        "Another young player that Pep did not give playing time to."the truth replied: City had two strikers already. He’s on a buyback clause.86

      More replies (7)

    • A

      Comment posted by Abi, today at 00:46

      He is a junior world cup winner. Along with Taiwo Awoniyi, both were a lethal combination.183

      • D

        Reply posted by Denz, today at 16:02

        "He is a junior world cup winner. Along with Taiwo Awoniyi, both were a lethal combination."Denz replied: Ravel Morrison was pretty good as lad, where is he now?

        Kelechi has obv worked very very hard. It’s not just talent00

    • J

      Comment posted by john, today at 09:34

      brenden rodgers has brought out the best in players who others have not rated, he has done this wherever he has managed,he seems to inspire teams,wish he was still our manager!!131

      • O

        Reply posted by overthehill, today at 09:45

        "brenden rodgers has brought out the best in players who others have not rated, he has done this wherever he has managed,he seems to inspire teams,wish he was still our manager!!"overthehill replied: Agree, swansea liverpool celtic the guy has always delivered,, Lpool sacked him because he came second jeez… one of the best if not the best in Premier…143

      More replies (4)

    • A

      Comment posted by Antlion, today at 09:01

      How has he become so prolific? Like Foden the other day, through hard work and dedication.

      Have the BBC reporters forgot what they are doing for a moment when asking? Do they not perform well in their jobs and get rewarded for it?

      The question doesn’t need asking.165

      • D

        Reply posted by Daves nan, today at 09:56

        "How has he become so prolific? Like Foden the other day, through hard work and dedication. Have the BBC reporters forgot what they are doing for a moment when asking? Do they not perform well in their jobs and get rewarded for it? The question doesn’t need asking."Daves nan replied: The BBC reporters do get handsomely rewarded but they don’t perform well, just jump on the latest bandwagon and phone it in.
        Don’t even need to change out of their pajamas, just throw in plenty of cliches and recycle a previous article.75

      More replies (1)

    • F

      Comment posted by footiefan81, today at 05:48

      I remember seeing Iheanacho at City and thinking this lad is going to be a player. There is no great secret, like all players, they need to play regularly to play their best form. Never going to see it with 10m sub appearances. It’s the only way you get match fit and build confidence.132

    • T

      Comment posted by THE BRIGHTSON, today at 08:21

      Goes to show that if a coach believes in you, a good player can always shine. Had Pep believed in him, he would have even been better at City than he is at Leicester right now144

      • S

        Reply posted by sploggon, today at 11:40

        "Goes to show that if a coach believes in you, a good player can always shine. Had Pep believed in him, he would have even been better at City than he is at Leicester right now"sploggon replied: Rodgers didn’t believe in him at all.He was forced to play him because of injuries to Harvey Barnes and Perez.He never gave him a chance and still wouldn’t of if those players had been fit.111

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