Opinion: Is it time for a change on the right side at Leicester City?
Is Marc Albrighton still the best man 

As the year of 2021 commences and the Premier League enters its second half of the season, Leicester City is currently third and seeking to achieve European qualification.

Many fans have had their say on how to improve the team, but one of the most evident areas of needed consistency is the right midfielder position. Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has shown confidence in 31-year-old veteran Marc Albrighton during the current season, but it is evident that there is a lack of true creativity in that right-hand side despite a few recent promising showings. 

It is time for the Foxes to look at their depth in this position and evaluate who could provide a higher quality contribution and help the Foxes achieve their goals.

Rodgers has options

In terms of depth on the right-hand side of the midfield, many players are capable of claiming the right-wing berth within Brendan Rodgers' side. Turkish right-winger Cengiz Ünder was brought in on loan from AS Roma, but has recently suffered a hamstring injury that has sidelined him since before Christmas. Furthermore, the Turk seems to have not yet convinced Rodgers, as he has only registered six Premier League appearances since signing.

Additionally, the Foxes also possess the talent of 27-year-old Spanish striker Ayoze Perez, who has put in a shift at the right-hand side since coming in from Newcastle United in the summer of 2019. He has been in mediocre form as of late and is naturally a striker, which is primarily why he has not had much of an impact on the team since his arrival from the Magpies.

The East-Midlanders also boast of the quality of 25-year-old Belgium full back Timothy Castagne, who came in to bolster the defensive side of the team but is versatile enough to play on the right side. Finally, Leicester have the youthful and promising England 22-year-old James Justin, who has brilliantly deputised during the absence of Portugal international Ricardo Pereira

By assessing the recent performances of the recently mentioned players, it appears that any of them can provide a similar contribution. As highlighted by the statistics provided by Whoscored.com, all of these Foxes have pretty similar passing stats.

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Creative Forces

Albrighton provides one key pass per game in the Premier League, which Justin surpasses by 0.1 as a right-back, meanwhile Castagne provides only 0.2 less key passes per game in the same amount of games. To offer insight as to what Ünder can provide if he plays constantly, his UEFA Europa League stats have to be highlighted. He is the victor in this category, as in his five games in the Europa League he has provided 1.2 key passes.

The other main focus of interest in terms of passing has to be crosses per game. The hailed cross merchant Albrighton has only provided 0.6 crosses per game this season, which to be honest is not efficient enough.

In comparison, Leicester attacking-midfielder James Maddison is averaging 1.1 crosses per season, admiral numbers considering he is usually played centrally. Full-backs Castagne and Justin fail to reach Albrighton’s crosses per game, with the Belgian providing 0.3 crosses per game and the young English offering 0.4 crosses per game.

In the Europa League, Ünder has provided a staggering 1.7 crosses per game, which is almost two times as more crosses per game than Albrighton.

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Who provides more in offence?

With regards to these player’s offensive contributions, it is evident that Ünder is the better player. The Turk has accumulated 3.2 shots per game, 2.3 dribbles per game, and no offsides in five games of the Europa League, tremendous numbers. 

Additionally, in his two displays for Turkey in the UEFA Nations League, Under averaged 2.8 shots per game, two key passes, and 0.8 dribbles per game. The only weakness that can be highlighted in his game is that he gets dispossessed a lot, as he has been pushed off of the ball 1.5 times in the Premier League, 1.2 times in the Europa League, and 1.8 times in the Nations League. This is certainly something that Brendan and his team can help Under improve on, which would make him a frightening individual for any Premier League defense to come up against.

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On the other hand, Castagne can also go a long way in arguing he is deserving of an inclusion on the right-flank. Playing as a full back this season, the Belgian's numbers in terms of shots, key passes, dribbles, and dispossessions per game are almost identical to that of Albrighton’s. The same can be said for James Justin, as his performances this season on the right-hand side have been exquisite for his age.

The only verdict that can be attained through these statistics is that Justin, Castagne, and Ünder can all certainly be options, alongside Albrighton. Under is possibly the one most deserving of staking his claim upon his return for a hamstring injury, meanwhile Castagne can possibly provide quality performances on the right-hand side once Pereira is recovered. Justin can also provide a shift on the right-hand side, but his defensive display as a full back this season will most likely lead to him switching up to the left side of the defense once Pereira makes his long-awaited return to the squad in the next couple of weeks.

It will be up to Rodgers to decide who will claim the right-wing role in the team if he so desires, but is evident that there is no need to go out and sign another player for the rest of the season to supply this need.

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