Consider the following:
に here is used in its function of denoting the time where an event occurs (に1):
に becomes acceptable if dative(に2):
- ◯ 最近に2なって
Why is it that に may not be used for the instances marked with * ?
Why is には acceptable? If に1 is prohibited but には allowed, does this suggest that the に of には is distinct from に1?
I think に1 may not be used to mark deictic (words which meaning depends on contextual information) nouns. I think that is what they have in common. It is not possible to have useful information about "yesterday", "today", "tomorrow" or "next year" etc. unless we have more information about the current time.