How Leicester’s summer should go

Here is Leicester’s squad:

Goalkeepers:

Kasper Schmeichel – 38 league starts – 3420 minutes

Danny Ward – 0 league starts – 0 minutes

Eldin Jakupovic – 0 league starts – 0 minutes

Defenders:

Ben Chilwell – 36 league starts – 3240 minutes

Çaglar Söyüncü – 4 league starts + 2 subs – 372 minutes

Wes Morgan – 21 league starts + 1 sub – 1926 minutes

Jonny Evans – 21 league starts + 3 subs – 1995 minutes

Ricardo Pereira – 35 league starts – 3125 minutes

Harry Maguire – 31 league starts – 2599 minutes

Filip Benkovic (returning from loan at Celtic) – 17 league starts + 3 subs –

Christian Fuchs – 2 league starts + 1 sub – 206 minutes

James Justin (joined from Luton Town) – 35 league starts + 8 subs –

Midfielders:

Demarai Gray – 23 league starts + 11 subs – 1996 minutes

James Maddison – 35 league starts + 1 sub – 2850 minutes

Marc Albrighton – 18 league starts + 9 subs – 1627 minutes

Daniel Amartey – 7 league starts + 2 subs – 641 minutes

Harvey Barnes – 11 league starts + 5 subs – 1010 minutes

Adrien Silva (returning from loan at AS Monaco) – 14 league starts + 3 subs – 1271 minutes

Nampalys Mendy – 23 league starts + 8 subs – 2089 minutes

Wilfred Ndidi – 37 league starts + 1 sub – 3299 minutes

Rachid Ghezzal – 8 league starts + 11 subs – 739 minutes

Bartosz Kaputska (returning from loan at OH Leuven) – 18 league starts + 2 subs – 1535 minutes

Andy King (returning from loan at Derby County) – 2 league starts + 2 subs – 152 minutes

Hamza Choudhury – 7 league starts + 2 subs – 597 minutes

Forwards:

Kelchi Iheanacho – 9 league starts + 21 subs – 931 minutes

Jamie Vardy – 30 league starts + 4 subs – 2733 minutes

Islam Slimani (returning from loan at Fenerbahçe) – 14 league starts + 1 sub – 1255 minutes

Fousseni Diabaté (returning from loan at Sivasspor) – 16 league starts + 1 sub – 1418 minutes

Ayoze Pérez (joined from Newcastle United) – 34 league starts + 3 subs – 2928 minutes

Season recap:

Despite changing managers in February and these managers having contrasting playstyles and tactics, Leicester’s 2018/19 season was still a success. The foxes won 15, drew 7 and lost 16 ending the season with 52 points which earnt them a 9th place finish, just 5 points off 7th placed Wolves which was an overall improvement from the 2017/18 season as they earnt 5 more points but also finished 9th. In the 2018/19 season they had the equal 11th best attack along with Crystal Palace as they both scored 51 goals, a decrease from the previous season as they had the best attack behind the “top six” having scored 56 goals, and they had the equal 7th best defence alongside with Newcastle ahead of Man United and Arsenal who conceded 54 and 51 respectively, conceding 51 was an improvement from the 2017/18 season in which they had the 5th worst defence conceding 60 goals which was more than 2 out of the 3 relegated teams from that season.

In the EFL Cup, Leicester made it to the quarterfinals having beaten Liverpool and Leeds 2-0 and 3-1 respectively along the way before being beaten by eventual champions Man City on penalties as their cup run came to an end. In the FA Cup they didn’t endure as much success as they got knocked out by then League Two side, Newport County in the third round in a game which saw Pádraig Amond score a later winner for the Welsh side after Rachid Ghezzal scored the equaliser in the 82nd minute to give Leicester hope.

Leicester started the season with a very defensive manager in Claude Puel before he was given the sack in February as the fans grew tired of his tactics and Leicester not getting the results despite them having the 5th best defence in the league according to expected goals (xG) when he was sacked, the reason for their defence underperforming in xG defensively could be down to individual mistakes which were prominent, their goalkeeper not being good enough or merely just unlucky. Claude Puel was replaced by former Liverpool and Swansea manager, Brendan Rodgers who implemented a more attacking and possession-based side as he moved them away from the defensive and counter attacking tactics the squad has become accustomed to.

Transfers:

With Leicester having recently rejected a £70 million bid for Harry Maguire from Man United, it is clear the Englishmen is highly sought after and if he does leave, it will be for a record fee for a defender as Leicester are looking for £80-£90 million and are in a strong bargaining position as he signed a 5 year contract last summer as well as him being grateful to the club so won’t push for a move away from the King Power. The Midlands club also have some deadwood they’ll be looking to get off the wage bill this summer. After already having signed Justin and Pérez for a combined £38 million, it is rumoured Leicester still have around £40 million left to spend.

Adrien Silva (£10-£15 million) and Islam Slimani (£5 million) As previously mentioned, Maguire has been subject off a move to Old Trafford for a record fee for a defender and United have already bid over his valuation so when they come back for the proclaimed “slabhead”, Leicester should take the offer which will be between £80 million and £90 million. Although Demarai Gray is still very young (23 at time of writing) when he is valued at £20-£30 million you should take that seen as he hasn’t kicked on since joining from Birmingham in 2016 to cut their losses on the “Demarai Gray project” and take a very good profit from it in which they could use that money to put towards a more useful player. Ever since joining from Sporting Lisbon in 2018, Adrien Silva has never been able to be a main stay at Leicester but did enjoy some success on loan at Monaco in the second half of the 2018/19 season as he helped the Les Monégasques fight off the possibility of relegation to Ligue 2 and with the Portuguese midfielder valued at £10-£15 million, this should be another transfer Leicester should cut their losses on. Just like with Algerian striker they also signed from Sporting Lisbon which further backs up the claim that it is hard to judge a player coming from the Liga Nos, Slimani broke Leicester’s club record fee but he only netter 8 times in 35 for the foxes and has had 2 dissapointing loan spells since at Newcastle and Fenerbahçe in which he scored 0 in 4 for the Magpies and 1 in 15 for the Turkish club, he is now only valued at £5 million and at 31-years-old they should take it before the value diminishes any further.

With these departures, this will raise Leicester’s transfer budget to about £160 million but with some serious areas to address. Leicester have a lot of young promising players that would want to be loaned out to get extra game time to help further develop them and gain match experience such as Benkovic, Kaputska, Iheanacho and Diabaté which could be loaned out to lower Premier League, championship or Ligue 1 sides.

Transfers In:

Centre back – Yeray Álvarez, buyout clause €30 million (£26.9 million). The Basque born centre back was a mainstay in Bilbao’s defence during the 2018/19 season as he started 30 league matches and clocked up 2614 minutes as they finished 8th, only missing out to Europa League qualifiers on goal difference to Espanyol. The 24-year-old completes 3.9 tackles and interceptions per 90 however he would have to improve his passing as he only averages 42.8 passes per 90 with an 80.1% pass accuracy whilst completing 3 long balls per 90, the lack of passes is down to Athletic Bilbao’s playstyle not relying on possession.

Centre back – Malang Sarr, would cost about £20 million to get him out of Nice. The Frenchman was ever present in the league as he started 34 league matches and was subbed on once as he played a total of 2995 minutes as Nice finished 7th and only conceded 35 goals, the same as PSG and only 2 more than Lille who boasted the best defence in Ligue 1. Malang completed 3.6 tackles and interceptions per 90 which is caveated with 59.5 passes per 90 with an 89.8% pass accuracy whilst also completing 3.9 long balls per 90. At the under 21s Euros he has shown he can be more involved in play as he has averaged 77.5 passes per 90 with an 91.6% pass accuracy along with 5 long balls completed per 90.

In comparison, Harry Maguire averaged 2.2 tackles and interceptions per 90 whilst completing 62.3 passes per 90 with an 88.8% pass accuracry as well as completing 4 long balls per 90. These stats show that Álvarez and Sarr can share the passing burden or one of them can take that role. These acquisitions would put less reliance on just one centre back whilst adding further depth and lowering the average age which could help if Leicester want to have sustained success.

Centre midfielder – Youri Tielemans, AS Monaco are asking for around £40 million, other top clubs are rumoured to be interested but the Belgian is keen on a return to Leicester after enduring success when on loan there during the second half of the 2018/19 season. He quickly became a fan favourite after putting in top performances. At Leicester he started 13 games in which he played a total of 1092 minutes, in these minutes he got 3 goals and 4 assists, the best in both within Leicester’s midfield since joining, averaging a goal involvement every 156 minutes compared to Man City’s David Silva who averaged a goal involvement every 172 minutes. The 22-year-old averaged 1.7 tackles and interceptions, 1.2 key passes, 49.3 passes with an 85% pass accuracy, 0.5 through balls and 2.4 shots all per 90 showing he can do everything and help-out in defence and offensive for the Foxes.

Winger – Malcom, Barcelona are looking to recoup the £35 million they spent on the Brazilian only a year after buying him from Bordeaux. In his only season with the Blaugrana, he played 608 league minutes so for a more accurate set of statistics, I’ll be using his numbers from his last season with Bordeaux, the 2017/18 season. In that season he started 32 times and was subbed on 3 times in the league totalling to 2867 minutes in which he scored 12 times and assisted his team mates 7 times, averaging a goal involvement every 152 minutes. He also averaged 2.1 shots (0.8 in the box), 2.5 key passes and 2.6 dribbles per 90 compared to Riyad Mahrez for Leicester when they won the league in the 2015/16 season where he averaged 2.3 shots (1.3 in the box), 1.8 key passes and 3.5 dribbles per 90. If they give Malcom consistent game time, then in Bredan Rodger’s side he should be able to replicate his form from 2017/18 that earnt his move to the Nou Camp.

Striker – Aleksander Mitrović, Fulham would reportedly accept a £30 million offer. During the 2018/19 season, the Serb carried a lacklustre Fulham as in 3282 minutes he scored 11 and got 3 assists but tailed off as after Fulham’s 4-2 win against Brighton on the 29th January, he only scored once more in the league. If Brendan Rodgers can keep Mitrović working hard, he will replicate his form from the first half of the season which would put less onus of Vardy to get the goals. He is 6’2” and can also be a target man meaning he can bring others into play more and with Leicester’s other attacking players such as Vardy, Albrighton, Maddison and maybe Malcom then the former Newcastle man could be pivotal to Leicester. Within his 3282 minutes, the 24-year-old averaged 3.5 shots (only 1 from outside the box) and 6.5 aerial battles won per 90 which would be a useful asset for Leicester to have an aerial threat and offer something different.

These signings would total £150 million which would be within their budget of £160 million after sales whilst making the squad more competitive and lowering the average age of the squad. With the acquisitions and Brendan Rodgers, Leicester could push for the top 6 with Wolves if Arsenal and Man United continue to falter defensively.

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8 Comments

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