IS THERE CAUSE FOR CONCERN AT LEICESTER CITY?
Leicester City fans may be used to the success of recent times, but with the club's lack of summer signings, could we see the Foxes struggle this season?
Lack Of Signings
Leicester is the only team in Europe's top five leagues yet to register a new player for the upcoming season, remarkable in the current free-spending Premier League era that we know today.
The lack of business so far will be frustrating and worrying at the same time for supporters and manager Brendan Rodgers, as they look to compete in the upcoming season. Missing out on targets to rival clubs, as well as a lack of funds at the managers disposal have been the main causes of the Foxes' quiet summer so far.
With the side suffering countless first team injuries last season and the introduction of five substitutes this season, Rodgers will be keen to bolster his squad numbers.
Owned by the King Power Group, the club owners have backed the improvement of the playing squad with big spending, and have been the league's seventh biggest spenders over the past five years, outlaying just over £380 million in this period (Averaging £76 million per season).
Finishing 5th in Brendan Rodgers first full season at the King Power stadium would be followed up with another 5th place finish and FA cup final victory against Chelsea in 2021, lifting the trophy for the first time in the clubs history.
A less successful season last term saw Leicester finish in 8th place in the league, missing out on qualification for European football this season. Whilst the club enjoyed a run to the semi-final of the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League, losing to eventual winners Roma. The league campaign was less hopeful and never promised to hit the heights of previous seasons under Rodgers.
With just one win in the first two months of 2022, Leicester would sit in 11th by turn of March, 11 points behind the top seven, with an injury-hit squad largely to blame for inconsistent results . The club would not sit above their final position of 8th all season, after previous seasons flirting with the top four.
At least several key first-team players could still leave the door before the start of the season at the King Power, with the first confirmed departure of the summer and club legend Kasper Schmeichel joining French Ligue 1 outfit Nice this week. The 35-year-old made 414 appearances in 11 years for the Foxes, which included winning the Premier League and FA Cup during his hugely successful time at the club. Goalkeeper Danny Ward is expected to take the no.1 role this season. The Welsh custodian has so far only featured once in the Premier League.
Other potential departures could still be confirmed at the club, with James Maddison heavily linked to Newcastle United. The former Norwich attacking midfielder has been the subject of two rejected bids over the past week, with the club holding out for more than the £50 million reportedly offered from Newcastle.
Midfielder Youri Tielemans is another player who has dominated the transfer rumours this summer, with Arsenal reportedly still heavily interested in the Belgian, despite no official bid from the club being made formal so far. Currently valued at around £50 million, the midfielder's contract comes to an end next year. Now could be the best time for Leicester to cash in on their star before letting him go for free in 12 months.
21-Year-old defender Wesley Fofana is another heavily linked player feared to be exiting the King Power this summer, with the club reportedly rejecting a £63 million offer from Chelsea, with the club's hierarchy thought to value the French centre-back at closer to £85 million. #
The West London side are expected to come in with an increased offer to secure the deal, as they look to strengthen their new look defence this season. The French under 21 star managed just 630 minutes for Leicester in the league last term, after missing the majority of the season through injury with a fractured fibula.
Whilst the club will not want to lose any of their key first team players this summer, the club will need to move players on if they are to find the funds to strengthen the squad before the window closes on September 1st. With Leicester looking to potentially strengthen so late in the window Rodgers may have to be in the market for 3rd or 4th choice targets.
Last Year Of Contracts
At least seven first team players at Leicester are entering their final year of contracts this season, which include the ageing duo Jamie Vardy and Jonny Evans.
Vardy, who turns 36 at the turn of the year, has been a club legend and the main focal point to the Foxes attack for the past ten years, but after many successful years at the club, could the forward's time slowly be coming to an end?
Playing 25 league games last season, the lowest amount of outings since joining the club, the Sheffield born striker missed at least two months of the season due to hamstring and knee injuries. With just one year on his current deal, Leicester must plan for life after Vardy, with his future past this season still unclear. The clinical forward still managed to score an impressive 15 times despite fewer minutes on the pitch last season.
Defender Jonny Evans is another key player whose contract enters its final year. The Northern Irish man was also sidelined for a large spell last season with a hamstring injury, consigning him to just 18 appearances in the league in 2020-21. The current vice-captain will be looking to step up to take the vacant skipper's armband after the departure of captain Schmeichel earlier this week.
Elsewhere, Çağlar Söyüncü, Ayoze Pérez, Nampalys Mendy, Daniel Amartey and the aforementioned Youri Tielemans are all entering the final 12 months of their club contracts, with the quintuplet combining for a total of 597 appearances in all competitions for the club. This will leave a large percentage of the first team free to leave the club at the end of the season.
Leicester have a tricky start to the campaign, with two London trips to Chelsea and Arsenal before hosting Manchester United in their opening five league fixtures. The Foxes open their season at home to Brentford on Sunday.
Having been linked to the trio of Arsenal, Tottenham and Man United in the past 18 months, remarkably, Brendan Rodgers found himself under some pressure last season.
Despite consecutive top five finishes in 2019-20 & 2020-21, winning the FA cup in 2021 and reaching the semi-finals in a European competition, Rodgers found himself under heavy pressure last season with the club losing 4-1 to local rivals Nottingham Forest, crashing out of the FA cup that coincided with just 3 wins in 11 games in early February this year.
With the club enjoying one of their best spells in modern history after winning the Premier League in 2016, the fans and neutrals alike expect top seven finishes with anything less deemed a failure, with the club enjoying back to back European football over the past two seasons, last season must be seen as a disappointment.
The pressure will be on Rodgers to ensure Leicester do not slip further down the table, with this season promising to be a very competitive campaign ahead. Could this be Rodgers' most testing year ahead at Leicester?