Leicester City had a relatively quiet ninth-place finish last season after going to Europe for the first time in 2016-17 and of course, winning the Premier League title in 2015-16. Now the question is, will the Foxes recover from selling Riyad Mahrez to remain in the top half of the table?
- James Maddison — 21 — Attacking Midfielder — Norwich — $29.2M
- Ricardo Pereira — 24 — Right Back — FC Porto — $26M
- Caglar Soyuncu — 22 — Center Back — Freiburg — $21.9M
- Filip Benkovic — 21 — Center Back — Dinamo Zagreb — $15M
- Rachid Ghezzal — 26 — Right Winger — Monaco — $14.5M
- Danny Ward — 25 — Goalkeeper — Liverpool — $16.4M
- Jonny Evans — 30 — Center Back — West Brom — $4.6M
- Riyad Mahrez — 27 — Right Winger — Man City — $80.5M
- Ahmed Musa — 25 — Center Forward — Al-Nassr — $19.3M
- Ben Hamer — 30 — Goalkeeper — Huddersfield — Free
- Harvey Barnes — 20 — Left Midfielder — West Brom — Loan
- George Thomas — 21 — Right Winger — Scunthorpe United — Loan
- Robert Huth — 33 — Center Back — No club
Imagine this: Jamie Vardy pouring in goals. Kelechi Iheanacho getting 90 minutes consistently. James Maddison melting Three Lions fans’ hearts. Demarai Gray bombing his 22-year-old body down the wing. Wilfred N’Didi putting in tackles and running around like a taller N’Golo Kante. Harry Maguire locking down the backline with his newly found World Cup confidence. And last but not least, a sweaty and angry blonde-haired Kasper Schmeichel on the touchline, pounding his gloves together screaming at nothing.
Okay, so maybe Leicester aren’t the most attractive football team on the pitch or coming off the bus, but the sprinkle of the old mixed with the new is worthy of a double-take on Leicester’s chances at getting back to Europe next season.
It’s hard to think a club with a guy like Schmeichel in net needs to improve their defense. But the Leicester center back gong show defense last year left Schmeichel on an island. The Foxes needed to rebuff the back this summer.
Leicester allowed 60 goals last season — the fifth most in the Premier League. They bought three center backs to address the issue in the transfer market. Twenty-two-year-old Caglar Soyuncu, 21-year-old Filip Benkovic and 30-year-old Jonny Evans will join Harry Maguire to help their world-class keeper.
If they can cut their goals allowed down to a reasonable number, the Foxes will run wild this season.
When Will Your Manager Be Fired
Claude Puel came in last year and changed the long-ball-to-Vardy-only system. Leicester were much better playing the ball around the pitch and getting the build-up play going.
The Foxes scored 56 goals last year, eight more than the next highest from the clubs Outside of the Top 6. Unfortunately, the man involved in 22 of those goals (12 goals, 10 assists) was sold for $80.5M to Manchester City.
The loss of Riyad Mahrez is going to sting. Leicester will try to implement new signing from Porto Ricardo Pereira at right wing or Monaco’s Rachid Ghezzal if they get desperate.
Puel might be forced to go back to the long ball system if Leicester struggles to restart their attack this season. It’s also important to note that the Foxes have a difficult run with Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea to round out the season. If things get weird before that, this club has shown it’s not shy about pulling the trigger on a manager.
Puel, you’ve been warned.
Which Player Will A Bigger Club Poach?
Harry Maguire is coming back from a great World Cup. He played a vital role in England back-three system and played the ball extremely well out of the back for Gareth Southgate’s squad. The 25-year-old’s stock has never been higher.
Manchester United were sniffing around this summer, but Leicester were reluctant to listen, and for good reason after selling arguably their best player to the other Manchester club.
After it was announced that Vardy signed a new contract, it could be Maguire’s turn to get a big move next.
Unknown to Household
James Maddison was the big signing for Leicester this summer. He was given the No. 10 and expectations couldn’t be higher for the 21-year-old.
The attacking midfielder spent last season in Norwich. And unlike Cardiff’s new signing Josh Murphy, Maddison had a great season. He scored 14 goals in 44 appearances and added eight assists. Maddison proved he could be a dominant player in the Championship. Now, it’s time to cut his teeth in the Premier League.
I expect a slow start from the kid because of the talent-gap between the two leagues. But Leicester wouldn’t have thrown such a massive transfer fee for him if they didn’t think he could to it. By the end of the season, Maddison will start to find his groove.
14/1 – Second worst among the clubs Outside the Top 6.