The tension is often palpable in the weeks leading up to a fresh season; with the transfer window shaping the mold, football fans across Europe await the imminent campaign with bated breath as pre-season fever takes its grip.
For Leicester City, last year brought remarkable success as manager Brendan Rodgers secured Europa League qualification and famously won the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s extensive history.
Since winning the Premier League in 2016 – in one of sport’s greatest underdog stories – Leicester have understandably faced a transitional period as the club have strived to establish themselves at the forefront of English football.
However, since Rodgers took the helm in 2019 there has been a swift transformation, arising from mediocrity to record successive European campaigns.
The triumph in the FA Cup only affirms Rodgers’ claims that the Foxes can indeed compete with the division’s most prominent outfits for major honours and consistent continental endeavours.
Potential for another fascinating season
Leicester fans have been treated to two enthralling seasons across the past few years; with consecutive fifth-place finishes, there has been plenty of gripping action to follow.
There is nothing to suggest that the recent efforts cannot be surpassed and that a place in the Champions League can be achieved once again.
For now, fans will be treated to Europa League action after falling short to Slavia Prague in the last-32 last year. The exit was shocking but is something that Rodgers will seek to rectify and proceed to the latter stages.
The likes of Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho will hope to continue their talismanic roles and score goals aplenty to achieve enough points to put the team in good stead.
Holding onto the rising James Maddison will be important to maintain the seamless link between the midfield and the forwards; the playmaker has been linked with a move to Arsenal across the duration of the current transfer window.
A strong defence and rock of a shot-stopper - captain Kasper Schmeichel - provide the cement to ensure Leicester present a formidable challenge to any opponent they cross.
A need for further progress?
Whilst the club are enjoying an excellent period of football under Rodgers’ tutelage, it is imperative that the strides made across the past few years are not ended prematurely.
The appeal of the Europa League entices a higher calibre of player, but the Champions League is the pinnacle of European football and for Leicester to fall short of making a return to the competition at the last hurdle leaves a bitter taste.
Losing to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the final fixture of the past two seasons has resulted in the loss of a top-four spot on both occasions ... agonising.
In both seasons, a drop in form late on caused the unwanted scenarios and experience and lessons learned will be vital to ensure the club strike third time lucky in their pursuit.
Make no mistake, to compete with the wealth of the established ‘big six’ is no easy task -something that Leicester are currently doing with aplomb - but keeping hold of certain players and making the correct acquisitions is vital to forging a path into that category.
Big year for new signings?
Speaking of acquisitions, Leicester have already completed a few signings with the genuine prospect of propelling them into the top four.
Patson Daka, Boubakary Soumare and Ryan Bertrand have all made swift entrances to the club with a month until the inception of the new season; such shrewd business will certainly aid Leicester as they look to integrate them into the team with ample time.
At the time of writing, Leicester have been strongly linked to an £8m deal for Ozan Kabak, available on the cheap due to Schalke’s relegation and financial struggles.
So far, Rodgers has shown real intent and commitment to the club and the strides they are taking as the strenuous climb to the top of the football pyramid continues.
A football club like no other
Ah, Leicester City.
The journey has been fascinating, laden with highs, lows, and everything in-between. Over the past decade, this football club has brought unprecedented success to a loyal and devoted fanbase, who have had to endure the harrowing loss of their chairman in a terrible accident only three years ago.
Such a tragic event cast a terrible shadow over a period of immense success, but the unity and love that is shared from board members to players to fans instills a candid sense of family that eludes many other clubs.
Every club relishes victory, but there is just something different about the Foxes; it’s been quite the ride, but it is far from over.