Opinion: What Leicester City have to do in the transfer window if they are to challenge for Europe next season
Brendan Rodgers has to get his summer recruitment spot on if the Foxes are to challenge for Europe next season | Photo: Getty/ Clive Mason

Opinion: What Leicester City have to do in the transfer window if they are to challenge for Europe next season

Brendan Rodgers faces his first summer in charge of the club in 2019 and it is vital that he gets it right if the Foxes are to achieve their targets

daniel-orme
Daniel Orme

Brendan Rodgers has made no secret of his targets since he arrived at Leicester City to replace former manager Claude Puel

Switching from Celtic, the Northern-Irishman has constantly admitted that the Foxes are aiming to achieve European football and challenge for silverware during his tenure. 

Despite missing out on return to Europe this season having finished ninth in the Premier League, the Foxes could be well set up to achieve just that or more next season - should they get this summer's recruitment spot on.

Mistakes have to be rectified 

Of course, there is always a risk associated with any transfer. Huge outlays could produce little results and that could be no more relevant than at Leicester City in recent seasons; an aspect that simply cannot be repeated this summer.

Since promotion back to the top-flight in 2014, the East-Midlanders have spent approximately £250m in attempting to rectify the problems within their team. Some of the arrivals have been wildly successful, whilst others have flattered to deceive at the King Power Stadium. Of course the club can be praised for the shrewd business in the captures of the key trio that took Leicester to the 2015/16 title; Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N'Golo Kante, for fees totalling a figure of approximately £7m.

Extortionate sums though have been spent on the likes of Adrien Silva, Vicente Iborra, Rachid Ghezzal, Islam Slimani, Kelechi Iheanacho  and Gokhan Inler, amongst others, without any of them really failing to have any meaningful impact on the team. It could be argued then that in recent seasons that there have been more failures than successes especially considering the reported fees - mistakes that really cannot afford to be repeated under Rodgers.

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An alternative to Vardy needs to be found

In relation to mistakes, the most glaring error in the Foxes' recent recruitment has been their failure to find a proper foil for star forward Jamie Vardy. The former Fleetwood Town man has for a long time been the mercurial name at the club and again managed to score a highly-impressive 18 Premier League goals this season.

However, Rodgers cannot rely on Vardy forever, especially considering that he will be 33 mid-way through next season. It is imperative then that the club find a forward to share the Vardy's goal-getting workload. 

Their attempts so far have not gone too far to fix that problem. Approximately £100m has been spent on forwards since the Foxes returned to the Premier, with only a couple of them endearing themselves to the home support. Title winners Shinji Okazaki and Leonardo Ulloa will always have their names etched into club folklore, and have now departed, but the story could not be any further from the truth for others.

Andrej Kramaric and Ahmed Musa have long since been moved on, whilst record signing Islam Slimani looks to have no future at the club having been out on loan for the past 18 months. Kelechi Iheanacho also arrived for a big fee but has been another to not live up to expectations - considering he is the only senior striker alongside Vardy now at the club, that does not exactly inspire confidence. 

Whilst the past could be used as evidence to suggest that pouring money at a problem does not exactly fix a situation, the need for a Vardy alternative is imperative.

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Questions need answering

Heading into the summer, there are a number of questions revolving around exactly what the summer recruitment will look like but there are a few ideas. There will of course be speculation surrounding the future of Harry Maguire considering his links with Manchester United despite his extended contract. Ben Chilwell is also reportedly courting interest from the other half of Manchester and Pep Guardiola.

There will also be a lot said about whether the move for Youri Tielemans will be made permanent following the Belgian's impressive loan spell from AS Monaco. It is rumoured that Rodgers is keen but is facing competition. 

What his charges do not need however is a transfer saga throughout the summer months either incoming or outgoing. The move that saw Riyad Mahrez depart Manchester City for a record fee rumbled on for at least two seasons and was an unwelcome distraction for those already at the King Power Stadium. Avoiding a similar situation will be crucial this summer.

Identify what needs buying

One aspect of Leicester’s transfer business in recent years that does deserve considerable credit however is their aim in sealing any transfers relatively early. The starkest example of that in recent years has been their capture of Porto defender Ricardo Pereira.

By doing that, it allowed then boss Claude Puel to get an idea of what he needed and eliminated the possibility of any competition from other clubs or indeed any deadline day drama. The earlier that the Foxes’ can get their prime targets identified, the more settled and confident the squad could potentially be heading into the new season. 

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Fringe players need moving on

Whilst it is true that there remain doubts over the futures over the likes of Harry Maguire, Youri Tielemans and possibly Ben Chilwell, further decisions have to be made on other players, especially those who have not had the desired impact at the King Power Stadium. Some players in particular need to be moved on.

Adrien Silva is one of the candidates after struggling to settle, whilst again record signing Islam Slimani is unlikely to have a future at the club. There are also further players such as Matty James, Andy King, Bartosz Kapustka, Fousseni Diabate and Eldin Jakupovic, that have fallen down the pecking order. Should these players find new clubs, it could indeed free up considerable wages for new players.

If they are to sustain a consistent challenge for the top-six under Rodgers, they will need quality running through the squad and unfortunately some of these may not possess that. The Foxes' boss has time to assess his squad and has been doing just that since his arrival but it is also important that he shows that ruthless edge to get the squad just how he wants it.

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