Marc Albrighton has often been underappreciated by some Leicester City supporters following his move from Aston Villa back in 2014, but his consistency, especially of late, has lauded the plaudits.
The winger scored his first goal of the season with a well-taken left-footed strike during the Foxes’ 4-0 FA Cup thumping over Stoke City on the weekend and continues to go under the radar for his consistent performances in Brendan Rodgers’ side. This season, he has taken his game to a new level and is getting his just rewards.
While being often deployed as a right-winger, Albrighton has shown versatility, playing on the left as well as dropping into the back four or five at times when called upon. Even at 31, he is developing into one of the most important senior members of the Leicester squad and is having an excellent campaign despite not registering the amount of direct goal involvements he deserves.
When Albrighton made the switch across the Midlands over six years ago, many knew of the talent he had at his disposal but instantly his work-rate and desire shone through. Having struggled for regular first-team minutes during his first season at the club, he played a key part of the Foxes’ title-winning team.
The Tamworth-born winger featured in all of Leicester’s Premier League matches in 2015-16, mainly playing on the left of a midfield four. With Riyad Mahrez on the other side, Albrighton provided an extra level of balance to that team, as well as grabbing crucial goals and assists in the meantime.
Another impressive feature of his game is that he has adapted to wherever a City manager has wanted to play him. Albrighton had to fill in at right-back at the end of Claude Puel’s first campaign in charge and did a good job in an unnatural position. This became a regular occurrence as he played in midfield the following campaign away at Bournemouth, scoring in that game too.
Since his Leicester debut, Albrighton averages just under seven assists per season – which is the most of any current City player in that time. He also has chipped in with the occasional crucial goal, with the second against Sevilla probably his most important in a Foxes shirt. Two against Manchester City back in 2018-19, both in different competitions, spring to mind but the pair were each as vital.
However, Albrighton’s game time was limited especially in the league last season. Surprisingly, he started just eight top-flight matches and managed to play the full 90 minutes in just two of those. An inspiring performance at home to his former club Villa in the final game before lockdown proved what he was about, creating opportunities while working his socks off for the team.
It was astonishing to see his game time diminish slightly, but he has been a revelation this term. Albrighton has given Leicester that bit of added experience to a youthful squad when called upon and his contribution to the side recently hasn’t gone unnoticed. The assist for Youri Tielemans’ strike against Newcastle United perfectly demonstrated the quality he possesses in the final third. After his impressive strike in the win over Stoke, Albrighton continues to show what he is capable of.
A different option
Although Leicester have a lot of talent in wide areas, Albrighton gives Rodgers something different with his unique crossing ability. Not just that but his work-rate out of possession and willingness to help his team out both offensively and defensively is an asset which adds to the City squad.
Ayoze Perez, who has struggled for consistency, and on loan Cengiz Under are the other two senior natural wingers at the club, but Albrighton has earned himself a starting spot over the pair in recent weeks. Deployed on the right of an attacking three, his creativity to come off the flank and add an extra dimension to an already direct attack has been pivotal in getting the right balance, away from home in particular.
Having already made over 250 Premier League appearances, the former Wigan Athletic loanee isn’t showing any signs of slowing down and can be an important cog to Rodgers’ wheel, especially when fighting in three different competitions this season.