Football consistently reminds you just how quickly things can change.
The example of Kelechi Iheanacho provides a perfect case study, particularly in light of the big-money arrival of Patson Daka at Leicester City on Wednesday.
Last season, Iheanacho looked to be proving the critics right at the King Power Stadium.
From the start of the campaign until early February, the forward netted in just two matches—both on the Europa League—and failed to score in 18 games.
Opportunities had come his way in the absence of Jamie Vardy to prove—finally—that he could one day replace the veteran ex-England forward, but Iheanacho had failed to take them.
Recall the anonymous performances away at Crystal Palace, away in Braga, at home against AEK Athens, as fixtures came and went with Iheanacho failing to take responsibility for the Foxes’ scoring burden.
On this form, it would have come as no surprise had the striker been cut loose in the summer, having failed to realise the potential he demonstrated as a youngster at Manchester City.
But then came a glorious purple patch.
Starting with an effort in the 2-0 victory at Fulham in February, Iheanacho would proceed to score nine goals in his next nine games.
He would score a further seven before the season ended, breaking his personal Premier League record goals haul with 12 strikes overall.
No Prem forward scored 12 goals from Gameweek 22 onwards,
In the FA Cup, he truly made his presence felt, with several critical strikes as Leicester reached the final.
Ultimately, the Wembley showcase passed him by, but it mattered little in the end, as Iheanacho clinched a winner’s medal.
After winners against Manchester United and Southampton, no one could begrudge him a quieter outing against Chelsea.
No player has scored more in the FA Cup since Iheanacho’s debut in the competition—he eclipsed even Sergio Aguero this season—and no African player has ever scored more in the oldest ongoing football tournament in the world game.
These accolades, and the quality Iheanacho demonstrated during this run, will surely have convinced many that the striker was primed to further take the burden from Vardy during 2021-22.
However, Leicester’s decision to strike big and strike bold in the transfer window to recruit Daka—potentially the next big thing in African football—suddenly throws all of this into doubt.
While the Zambia frontman will take his time to adapt to the Premier League after starring in the Austrian Bundesliga, it is surely he—now—who is in pole position to replace Vardy as Leicester’s leading man.
With 95 goal contributions in his last 144 appearances for Salzburg, Daka is a genuine prospect, and has the potential to emerge as a Premier League superstar.
For an initial £23 million, he hasn’t been signed for a bench role.
At a glance, things don’t look good for Iheanacho, but could he still have a key role to play in the Foxes’ plans?
As he demonstrated this season, he’s best when playing off or alongside another forward, and Brendan Rodgers may well be considering Daka as a Vardy replacement to play alongside—not instead of—Iheanacho.
Certainly, during the latter part of the 2020-21 campaign, the Nigerian proved himself to be indispensable, and if he can maintain that level of performance during the early portion of the coming season, then he can surely remain prominent in Rodgers’ plans.
The trio are going to be a fearsome prospect for opposition defences next season, and it’s up to Iheanacho, once again, to prove himself for the East Midlanders.