Leicester City had an odd season, characterised by several ups and downs. They were one of the first to part ways with their manager, Craig Shakespeare, though following the appointment of Claude Puel, the Foxes seemed to have discovered their spark.
They were playing with a vigour and dynamism that had echoed throughout their fairy tale title-winning season. Everything was well. And then suddenly it wasn’t. Leicester picked up a mere 3 wins in as many months, finishing the league on arguably their worst run of form for quite some time.
This season, Puel will be afforded an entire summer and the board’s resources to mould this side to his design, and it’s good to see him making moves straight off the bat to improve upon faulty areas, particularly his defence. It promises to be yet another summer of a dragged out transfer saga with one of Leicester’s brightest talents being the subject of strong interest from one of the heavy hitters, with the Manchester clubs circling around Riyad Mahrez and Harry Maguire. Here, Puel must be commended for continuing to carry out improving his squad, and not letting the proposed transfer interfere with the amendment of his roster.
Having already signed Ricardo Pereira from Porto, and with Johnny Evans looking primed to put pen to paper on a contract, Puel’s defence seems to have been sorted, and very shrewdly so, with the pair costing only £23.3m.
The Foxes have also secured the highly rated 21-year-old James Maddison from Norwich on a five-year deal. A move for Xherdan Shaqiri also looks to be on the cards, with the player keen on a return to the top flight. He would likely be available for a cut-price fee, following Stoke’s relegation.
Aston Villa’s financial crises may also force their hand on the sale of prized asset Jack Grealish, who has interested Leicester. A bid for the ‘Turkish Messi’ Abdulkadir Omur of Trabzonspor may also be forthcoming, with the Trabzonspor management saying an offer in the region of £20m would likely be entertained, but it must be noted that an official has not yet been made. It may not prove to be necessary if Man City offer Patrick Roberts in a part exchange for Mahrez.
The number of departures from Leicester also seem to be rising, with Mahrez’s transfer to Man City looking imminent. However, the transfer is likely to bring Patrick Roberts to the club, a player with the same skill set and style of play as the outgoing Algerian, needing only a bit of polishing.
Speaking of outgoing Algerians, Islam Slimani may look for a fresh start elsewhere, having failed to stamp his mark at the King Power like he did so successfully whilst as Sporting. With the arrival of Adrien Silva, the competition for a starting spot has become that much tougher.
Following suit may be Shinji Okazaki, and/or Leonardo Ulloa. It didn’t really work out for the latter when he was sent to Brighton to rediscover his form, and the former is unlikely to be content with substitute appearances for much longer. However, all 3 are unlikely to be granted a move.
Leicester seem to have their transfer blueprints wrapped up in a neat little bow. If the swift and precise execution can be sustained for the entire duration of the window, then Claude Puel will be delighted, and the Leicester faithful elated. There really be no excuse valid if the Foxes have a sub-par season, but given the glimpses of what Puel can achieve, after a successful summer, we can realistically expect the East Midlands side to severely contend for, and achieve, a European spot in the upcoming season.
Written by Ayush Verma.