The Leicester City forward is nowhere near fulfilling his enormous potential, and a former international is urging Rohr to play a crucial role in getting the best out of the ex-Man City star
Former Nigeria international midfielder Friday Elahor believes even though Kelechi Iheanacho has often been deployed as a striker for club and country, the Leicester City ace would excel as a supporting striker.
Iheanacho plundered 11 goals in just 12 matches for the Golden Eaglets, helping the Nigerian cadet team win the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. But the then-teenager was deployed mostly as a supporting striker to centre-forward Isaac Success.
However, since Iheanacho made the breakthrough at Manchester City, he has been made to play as the main striker but with a tempered output.
After scoring 21 goals in 64 games for the Citizens across three seasons, the 24-year-old has only managed the same amount of goals in 94 matches since joining Leicester City for €27.7 million in 2017.
Iheanacho’s goal record for the Super Eagles is equally not stellar, with the Taye Academy product finding the back of the net seven times in 23 matches.
With Gernot Rohr presently favouring Victor Osimhen as Super Eagles’ first-choice striker, Iheanacho has had a reduced influence in the Nigerian national team.
But Elahor is convinced that Iheanacho, who scored Nigeria’s only goal in October’s two friendly games, can be a threat for the Gernot Rohr-led side when played alongside a central striker.
“I think all still depends on the player himself to say what position best suits him. I want to believe the reason coaches deploy Iheanacho in the striking role is that they saw that he scored several goals in his days as the cadet star,” Elahor told The Guardian.
“I think his real position is just to support the striker. Rohr should take time to study him well and decide the position to fix him. If I were the coach, I would play him in that role. Every coach has a plan A and B, and in case a player is deployed to a position he is not doing well, then he tries him in another position.
“When you put him in his real role, he will excel with his ability to dribble and take unexpected shots that may result in goals. Let’s see what role Rohr will deploy him when the country meets Sierra Leone in next month’s AFCON qualifier,” he stated.
Iheanacho is yet to score in three Premier League matches this term, but the forward was excellent in the Foxes’ Europa League clash against Zorya last week, scoring once and supplying two assists in a 3-0 win.