The Islam Slimani dilemma: What does the future hold for the forgotten Leicester City striker?
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24 : Islam Slimani of Leicester City celebrates after scoring to make it 2-1 during the Carabao Cup fourth round match between Leicester City and Leeds United at The King Power Stadium on October24th, 2017 in Leicester, United Kingdom (Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

As the transfer window closes for another summer, it’s another summer where Islam Slimani still remains a Leicester City player.

When the Algerian, nicknamed the Dragon slayer - mainly for his goalscoring exploits at Sporting Lisbon - arrived in the East Midlands for a club record fee on deadline day in 2016, there was widespread disbelief that the Foxes had managed to persuade a player of his calibre to join the then reigning champions of the Premier League.

Fast forward four years and some supporters opinions of him have changed. For one half of the fanbase, they believe the 32-year-old's time is up on Filbert Way whilst the other half feel that he is the alternative option that Brendan Rodgers is searching for.

Vavel looks at just how it has got to this point and whether or not Slimani is the missing piece in the jigsaw for Leicester this season.

Super start for Slimani

When any player joins a club for a large fee, they are always going to be scrutinised more than the low-risk cheaper signings, but when you arrive at a club as their record signing, there is almost no room for error whatsoever.

Splashing on a fee in the region of £28 million, Slimani looked like he was well worth the hefty price tag at first.

Two goals on his debut against Burnley in addition to a historic winner in Leicester's first ever home game in the Champions League against his old Portuguese rivals FC Porto had fans revelling his name and thinking they had found the perfect striker to partner their golden boy Jamie Vardy.

Unfortunately it wasn't to be from then on. The Algerian has since only scored a total of 13 goals in 46 appearances for the Foxes - with nine of those coming in his debut season.

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Loan spells and forced out of contention

Ever since his first season in England, game time at Leicester has been hard to come by for Slimani.

Loan spells at Newcastle United, Fenerbahce SK and AS Monaco failed to convince officials at Leicester that the 32-year-old could be a valuable asset.

Former manager Claude Puel left him out of his 25-man squad for the start of the 2019/20 season - albeit to pursue a loan or permanent transfer away from the club which he was able to secure.

Ever since then, it has been Leicester's priority to move Slimani on. The biggest stumbling block currently remains his wage. The former Lisbon striker is the club's fifth highest earner according to www.spotrac.com reportedly earning £80,000 a week, a wage many others are not willing to pay.

The East Midlanders would also like to recoup some of their money back from the deal, but again know that's unlikely given Slimani's poor form and lack of minutes on the pitch in recent times.

Furthermore, with his contract due to finish at the end of the season, any clubs who may be interested, know they can wait until January to approach to sign him on a pre-contract agreement.

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Could Slimani still be of use?

For some time now, Leicester fans believe they have been lacking a plan B in the forward department. For all of Jamie Vardy's goals, there are some games where the Foxes do struggle to find the back of the net.

Slimani offers a very different style. As opposed to Vardy's ability to run in behind defences, the Algerian is renowned for his heading ability and can prove a nightmare for opposition defences when balls are pumped into the box.

When the 32-year-old was first at Leicester, they were very much a counter-attacking side. Now under Brendan Rodgers, possession is a key element of their game.

As proved in the defeat to West Ham United last Sunday, the Foxes struggled to break down the Hammers back-line playing in-between the lines.

With the likes of James Maddison, Youri Tielemans, Cengiz Under and Mark Albrighton amongst others all in the squad and capable of delivering an accurate cross, Slimani could be the perfect foil.

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Is Brendan Rodgers going to use him?

When asked about the future of Slimani earlier in the summer, the Leicester boss admitted that he was looking at moving the forward on, however recent reports have suggested that the outcasted striker may now well be in the Northern Irishman's plans.

It has already been confirmed that Slimani will not be in the club's Europa League 25-man squad but according to journalist Nabil Djellit on Twitter, he has been included in the 25-man squad list for the Premier League.

The squad lists for the Premier League don't have to be named until October 20th, but the tweet has caused debate among fans and journalists alike that Slimani may well have one last chance to prove that he could be of help this season.

At 32, Slimani is certainly not the solution to any long-term striking problems at Leicester, however in the short-term with three competitions to compete for in a congested fixture list, the previous experiences of the Algerian could well prove to be a decision that reaps rewards should he be used.

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