Warriors’ prospect Tawanda Maswanhise is expected to graduate into the first team of relegated English Premier League side Leicester City after he scooped the club’s Developmental Player of the Year accolade.
The 20-year-old has been knocking on the senior team’s door for the past two seasons and had an impressive preseason with the first team last summer but the coaches felt he was not yet ripe for top -flight football.
Maswanhise went on to star for the Under-21 side in the Premier League 2 emerging as the team’s top performer with seven goals and three assists.
Leicester City named its players of the just-ended season last week and the general sentiment is that he is set for a starting role in the senior team in the championship next season.
Most of the players who won the Leicester development squad player of the year award such as Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell, Harvey Barnes, Kiernan Drewsbury-Hall and Luke Thomas have gone on to star for the senior team.
“In the youth ranks, the Under-21s’ top scorer Tawanda Maswanhise was named development squad player of the year. Six of the past seven winners of the award have gone on to make first-team appearances for the club, with several of those, including Ben Chilwell, Harvey Barnes, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, and Luke Thomas becoming regulars. The forward will hope to get his first-team chance next season,” Leicester City based publication Leicester Mercury said.
Maswanhise had expressed interest to represent Zimbabwe during Zdravko Logarusic’s tenure as coach before Zimbabwe was suspended from Fifa competitions.
In the Leicester City awards, Kelechi Iheanacho won the main prize after 13 goals and assists in just 13 starts across all competitions, with Timothy Castagne getting the vote from his team-mates.
The striker only started 13 games in all competitions this term, but still contributed a combined 13 goals and assists. Supporters were vocal in wanting to see more of the Nigerian, who has developed into a fans’ favourite since his scoring run in 2021, and that backing has seen him pick up the club’s main gong.
His highlights came in February, when he scored twice and set up three more goals across the two wins against Aston Villa and Tottenham, while he produced a heroic moment in the 1-1 draw with Leeds, playing the pass to set up Jamie Vardy’s equaliser despite tearing his groin.
Iheanacho follows in the footsteps of James Maddison, Youri Vardy, and Ricardo Pereira, who have won the award in the past four seasons.
With the club in the relegation battle, their annual awards night was cancelled, and little fanfare has been made of the award going to Iheanacho, with the club seeking the right time to make the announcement following the demotion to the Championship.
Right-back Timothy Castagne picked up the players’ player of the year award, the Belgian one of City’s more consistent and reliable performers, starting 36 of the 38 Premier League games.
For City Women, who did manage to claw themselves to safety, there was little surprise to see goalkeeper Janina Leitzig win the fans’ vote and get the nod from her team-mates. The German, who only arrived on loan from Bayern Munich in January, was integral in Willie Kirk’s side turning around a seven-point deficit at the bottom of the table.
The academy player of the year award went to Amani Richards, who was the Under-18s’ star man, racking up more than 20 goals and assists. He joined from Arsenal’s academy 18 months ago. — Additional reporting by Leicester Mercury