This week I will publish season previews of all 20 clubs in the Premier League and evaluate their transfers, tactics and hopes for the coming year. Click here to read the others
Not much is said about Leicester City pushing past Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United in the pursuit of champions Manchester City. Still, Leicester has been comfortably in the top four for much of the past two seasons. If it hadn’t been for a breakdown in the last five games and four points returned to Liverpool’s 15, Leicester, rather than the 2019 European champions, would have played in the Champions League this season.
You didn’t go backwards. Light-footed striker Patson Daka from Salzburg, midfielder Boubakary Soumare from Lille and Danish center-back Jannik Vestergaard from Southampton for a total of £ 65m represent excellent value for money and good posture.
They’re also insurance against potential robberies in the rest of the transfer window. James Maddison and Youri Tielemans are obvious targets that have sparked speculation about moves to Arsenal and Liverpool respectively. It would cost a lot of money to postpone, but coach Brendan Rodgers understands the lure of the “big club” and is on a constant readiness should it depart.
The exciting Leeds United youngsters will make Marcelo Bielsa dream of a fourth year of progress
The injury-related loss of Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans is an obvious blow, but it is mitigated by the arrival of Vestergaard from Southampton, who has solid experience and will ultimately join Caglar Soyuncu without any significant interruption.
At the forefront of the attack, Jamie Vardy has evolved into both a creator and a finisher, still able to lead the attack alone or work with Kelechi Iheanacho. The addition of Daka gives Rodgers real options.
- Manager: Brendan Rodgers
- Position last season: 5.
- Key man: Youri Tielemans
- In: Patson Daka (RB Salzburg, £ 27m), Boubakary Soumare (Lille, £ 17m), Ryan Bertand (Southampton, free transfer)
- Out: Wes Morgan (retired), Christian Fuchs (Charlotte FC, free), Matty James (Bristol City, free)
The failure of his first center-back pairing is not ideal, but the defense is well trained as full-backs in Ricardo Pereira and Ryan Bertrand, and in Kasper Schmeichel they have one of the best and most consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League.
With the lifting of the Community Shield against City, Leicester has shown the quality and resilience required to qualify for the Champions League. Rodgers has built a balanced squad with competition in all positions.
The state-of-the-art new training complex in Seagrave, north of the city, further underscores the club’s reputation as a destination for aspiring players. If the 2016 Premier League success was a fairy tale, the FA Cup win over Chelsea and the Community Shield win over City show the big strides Leicester has made.
You will be led by a progressive coach with top-end experience who knows how to maximize your potential. The fact that others continue to attract attention only increases the prospects of the major Premier League disruptors.