Why Leicester City signing Jonathan Ikone would be a real boost
Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund were also understood to be keen on the £40m-rated attacker but the French international eventually ended up staying put in his homeland amid widespread speculation over his future.
A youth exponent of Paris Saint-Germain, Jonathan Ikone initially featured for the club’s reserve side before making his first-team breakthrough during the 2016-17 season. However, the talented winger struggled for playtime due to stiff competition for places at the French capital and was loaned out to Montpellier for the second half of the 2017-18 campaign.
Ikone eventually departed PSG on a permanent deal to join Lille in the summer of 2018 and has since blossomed into one of the most exciting young attackers in France. The versatile forward has amassed 10 goals and 18 assists in 92 appearances for Lille in all competitions so far, also featuring in the Champions League and Europa League.
The 22-year-old represented France across various age-group levels between U-16 and U-21 before making his senior international debut against Albania last year. Ikone has since earned 4 caps for Les Blues, scoring once.
Ikone would add more firepower to the Foxes’ attack
Leicester aren’t really short of cover in the wide attacking department, especially after the acquisition of Cengiz Under on loan from AS Roma in the summer. The Turkish international is yet to start a game for the Foxes in the Premier League but has already proven his worth as a game-changer off the bench, chipping in with some valuable assists.
Harvey Barnes has consolidated his status as a key player on the flanks this season after a productive campaign last time around. The Foxes graduate has been one of the main creative outlets for Brendan Rodgers’ side over the past 12 months, providing talismanic frontman Jamie Vardy with service required to bang in goals week in, week out.
Leicester, though, have lacked significant goal contributions from some of their other attackers. Ayoze Perez and Kelechi Iheanacho have both struggled for consistency while Demarai Gray’s time at the King Power stadium seems to be coming to an end following his omission from the club’s Europa League squad.
With Gray out of contract at the end of the season and Vardy set to turn 34 in January, Leicester surely need to start making plans to reshape their attack in the coming windows regardless of Under’s long-term future. Reigniting interest in Jonathan Ikone, to that end, would make a lot of sense.
Predominantly a left-footed attacker, Ikone is at his best when given the licence to cut inside with his stronger foot from the right but is also capable of operating on the other side of the pitch and through the middle as a supporting striker. Add to that his promising tally of goals and assists at Lille and it’s easy to see why a potential deal for the Frenchman would add more depth and variety to the Foxes’ forward line.
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Jonathan Ikone has made significant strides in his development at Lille over the past two seasons, backing up his strong domestic form with some quality performances in the European competitions. The versatile winger has also made his mark for France at the international level, which further underlines his talent and potential.
The 22-year-old still has his best years ahead of him and working under a charismatic manager like Brendan Rodgers in East Midlands would surely help him take his game to the next level. Having said that, Leicester splashing the cash on Ikone in January or next summer would put them in good stead to go toe-to-toe with the big guns in the PL moving forward.