Opinion: Why Esteban Cambiasso leaving Leicester City might have been a blessing in disguise

Following an impressive performance against Arsenal in the Champions League, Esteban Cambiasso earned rapturous reviews after a 3-2 victory for his new side, in Olympiacos.

It was this type of display that earned the decorated Argentine plaudits and admirers at clubs such as River Plate, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and even Leicester City. But, after refusing to sign a new contract at the Midlands club at the end of the 2014/15 Premier League season, the popular midfielder departed the Foxes.

Fans were understandably distraught as their Player of the Season departed for pastures new, specifically the sunshine of the Greek capital.

Having managed to score five goals and provide a solitary assist in Leicester's infamous "Great Escape", the 35-year-old midfielder became something of a cult hero in the Midlands. However, following the Foxes' great start to the new season, the question has to be asked. Are Leicester better off without Cambiasso, after all?

Pressure off

Now, this view is evidently quite a controversial opinion to possess but the evidence suggests that Claudio Ranieri and his men have moved on from the former Inter Milan destroyer.

Following the release of Cambiasso and also the surprise sacking of provocative boss Nigel Pearson, Leicester were immediately installed as one of the favourites for relegation. Strangely, this took all of the pressure and expectation away from the King Power Stadium.

As a result of their heroics from the previous campaign (winning seven out of their last nine games to stay up) optimism was rife within the terraces in anticipation of a more comfortable second season. Led by the evergreen Cambiasso, supporters were looking forward to yet more top-flight football.

However, after revealing on his official Facebook account that he would not be renewing his contract in the Midlands, this wave of expectation decreased and another season of struggle looked destined for the Foxes.

But, it was this action that has allowed the current crop of City players to relax and really express themselves on the pitch without a weight of pressure on their shoulders. Determined to prove the pundits wrong, the whole squad is performing impeccably and are not allowing doubt to creep into their minds.

It is this tenacity that has allowed Leicester to pick up 12 points in only seven games. 

Ironically, a similar situation occurred in the 2013/14 season as the Foxes cantered to the Championship title (obtaining 102 points) after being tipped to remain in the second division for the foreseeable future. In comparison to the previous campaigns where Leicester were constantly one of the favourites, pressure and expectation were remarkably dampened.

Look close to home

Nevertheless, some would argue that this attitude may have been an influence of the new Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri instead of the exit of Cambiasso. But, another positive, following the Argentine's departure, is the emergence and continuing overwhelming performances of current Leicester players.

So far this season, experienced Foxes campaigners Danny Drinkwater and Andy King have really stepped-forward in order to fill the hole vacated by the popular Argentine. In the clashes against Sunderland and West Ham earlier this season, the duo turned in outstanding showings in order to gain the Foxes six points out of six.

Contributing strong tackling, great awareness and even sharp attacking intent, the two have been crucial components in Leicester's solid start to the new season. With Drinkwater and King already making seven and six appearances respectively (with the former already providing three assists) it appears that Ranieri values the duo immensely.

But, the question remains, if Cambiasso had stayed at the King Power Stadium, would the two have become so important?

Last season, the two only made a combined total of 47 Premier League appearances, with many of them coming from the substitute's bench. Whereas, the former Real Madrid man managed to make 31 appearances, which is even more impressive considering that he only joined the club in late August.

Whether this up-turn in fortune is down to application or just coincidence remains to be seen. But, Leicester fans will surely not be complaining about the sparkling performances of Drinkwater and King.

Scouting spot-on

Despite the astounding performances of the Foxes' favourites so far this season, it is Leicester's scouting system that has earned rave reviews following the release of their Player of the Season. 

In the summer transfer window, Ranieri's team have bought in various players to complement their squad. However, it is in the midfield area that Chief-Scout Steve Walsh has earned his money. Having managed to bring in Frenchman N'Golo Kante and Swiss captain Gokhan Inler, Leicester City look extremely strong in the centre of the park.

Whether the duo are able to emulate the former Argentinian international remains to be seen but early signs look positive.

Former SM Caen midfielder Kante seems to have already endeared himself to the King Power Stadium faithful with a couple of promising cameos. Having been labelled the top-tackler in Europe's top five league's last season, it was clear that Ranieri was receiving a classy player.

With strong tackling and driving runs being a large feature of the Frenchman's game so far, he looks a bargain at only a reported £4.7million (a fee they may not have spent had Cambiasso remained in a blue shirt).

Another high-calibre player that the club has managed to obtain is the ex-Udinese man Gokhan Inler. At only 31 years of age, the Swiss captain still has plenty to offer and fans will soon hope to see why Napoli spent approximately £13million on the midfielder in 2011.

Like Cambiasso, Inler arrives on English shores with plenty of experience, having made over 400 club appearances throughout his career. He evidently belongs in the upper-echelon of elite footballers and may not have been at Leicester if Cambiasso had stayed put.

Endless energy

On the other hand, if Cambiasso had remained at the King Power Stadium, Ranieri may not have been able to utilise a high-octane style of play that has served his team so well. At age 35, there cannot be that many arguments against the fact that the Argentinian is now in the twilight of his career. 

It is this fact that makes his contribution last season all the more amazing. However, there would be questions over whether the veteran midfielder would be able to keep up with Leicester's ultra-attacking and adrenaline-packed philosophy.

Last season, the Inter Milan legend was substituted a total of 10 times within the Premier League, often due to fatigue. So, now a year older the effects of exhaustion may have been felt even greater, not just by Cambiasso but also by his team-mates.

Firstly, as his energy gets lower and lower as the game progresses, team-mates may have to compensate and cover the positions that the midfielder is just not able to reach any longer. This in turn would suck the energy from the team, producing an extremely fatigued and maybe disorganised squad.

But, with the youth and energy now in the side, Leicester can maintain their fast-play that has been serving them so well.

So, what do the stats say?

So far, the only situations that have been explored have either been theoretical or hopeful. However, in order to see the true impact of Esteban Cambiasso's departure, the statistics have to be analysed.

Last season, as Leicester City managed to complete their "Great Escape", the club finished in 14th position in the Premier League with a total of 41 points and scored 46 goals. But, in the games that Cambiasso started, the Foxes obtained 31 points and netted 36 goals.

So, in conclusion, with Cambiasso on the field, the team (then managed by Nigel Pearson) gained 1.15 points per game and scored 1.3 goals per game. Whereas this season, Leicester are already averaging 1.71 points per game and scoring 2.15 goals per game.

Evidently, there is reason to suggest that Claudio Ranieri's team are better off without Cambiasso in the side. However, with the season in its very early stages it would be interesting to see how this argument develops over the next few months.

But, one thing is for sure. Leicester fans will always appreciate the effort and dedication that the Argentine displayed in his time at the club. Do you think Cambiasso leaving was a good thing?