The entire world celebrated Leicester’s triumph last season, but Claudio Ranieri and the club management ended their party quite early as rumours about the departure of key players started gathering momentum. That’s the problem if you win something big out of the blue and you aren’t big enough to stake your claim to the top spot. Teams with a better financial pull will swarm in like sharks to crush the new competitor and improve their own chances. Dortmund won the Bundesliga playing some attractive football, but they couldn’t compete with the financial pull of Bayern and ended up losing key players to them. Just weeks after winning the title, striker Jamie Vardy was linked heavily to Arsenal. Leicester managed to hold onto him. There were rumours about the departure of Mahrez, the PFA Player of the Year last season, and again Leicester managed to hold on. Eventually there was a casualty as N’Golo Kante moved to Stamford Bridge.
Leicester have been quite active in the transfer market too. They spent around 20 million euros on the frighteningly fast and talented striker, Ahmed Musa. While Leicester’s pre season was a bit disappointing as a whole, Musa’s contribution from the bench against Barcelona had fans jumping and he promises to be a hit in the PL. Mendy has been brought in to fill in the huge void left by the departure of Kante. They also managed to land Kaputska, the 19 year old Polish winger who burst into light at Euro 2016. Leicester set the PL alight with some brilliant and quick attacking moves and the signings of Musa and Kaputska, along with Vardy and Mahrez, will make them an even more dangerous outfit and also help Ranieri rotate his squad as they prepare for their Champions League debut. They have spent wisely with the amount spent on arrivals almost equal to the amount received from the departures.
However, the team does appear to be light on options heading into this season. Key players from last season like Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Vardy(29) and Okazaki are in the 30s now. While there are plenty of options in attack, there is little cover in defense and this might be a problem when Champions League football starts. They fell well short when put up against PSG and Barcelona. While preseason is no way to determine the success of a team, it does help build confidence and Leicester were probably overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the European giants. With other teams strengthening their squad with big names, Leicester will really have to push themselves to even secure a top 4 finish.
What would happen if the champions don’t perform well the next year? Chelsea faced that situation last season, but they had already established themselves as a big team and hence they were able to bring in a top manager and some big signings and also hold on to their main players. The club can actually afford to consider last season as a minor blemish and move on. Leicester City, on the other hand, cannot afford to do that. They would no longer be able to hold onto their star names as bigger teams will pounce on them. Their fairy tale season would be written off as a fluke and all the effort put into bringing them to the top will be lost. Sometimes getting to the top is far easier than staying there.
Leicester City will take on Manchester United at Wembley for the Community Shield. The Red Devils have had a brilliant summer window under new manager Mourinho with the additions of Ibrahimovic, Mkhitharyan and Bailly. A victory against the defending champs would send a clear message to the rest of the league that they are back to reclaim the trophy after 4 long years. Leicester will also be going to match with a similar attitude. Just that the stakes are completely different and a victory against United and Mourinho could see the beginning of a new era as Leicester look to shake up the traditional top 4 lineup of the league. Ranieri has promised that his side will not ‘do a Chelsea’this year. It’s time for him and his boys to keep their promise.
Hope you liked the article! Feel free to drop in your feedback (and your like too). Link to my blog. Follow for more!