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2015/16 Leicester City Positional Review: Strikers

This is the final installment of 2015/16 Leicester City Position Reviews. Check out the previous three assessments of Goalkeepers, Defenders, and Midfielders.

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Leicester City put together a remarkable season in the striking department during the 2015/16 Premier League campaign. The start of the season saw the arrival of striking reinforcements to cement Leicester’s Premier League status, with the club bringing in Shinji Okazaki and record signing Andrej Kramarić to star for the Foxes up top.

Instead, the season was dominated by one man, and one man only: Jamie Vardy. The England striker had a career season, racking up a total of 24 league goals, breaking the Premier League record of goals scored in consecutive matches with 11 in the process. Vardy and the rest of the strike force combined to propel Leicester to its first ever top-flight title.

Combine that with the inclusion of some bright young prospects and a strong supporting cast as we take a look back on a thrilling Premier League campaign up top.

Jamie Vardy

It was truly a rags-to-riches story for the Foxes front man. His breakout season saw him become the first Leicester player since Gary Lineker in the 1984/85 season to score 20 goals or more in the top flight of English football, all while racking up multiple awards.

His long list of achievements began with consecutive Premier League Player of the Month awards back in October and November. By the end of the campaign Vardy was awarded a place in the PFA Team of the Year, was later named The Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year, and won the 2016 Barclays Premier League Player of the Season.

This stunning campaign also saw him earn a place on the England National Team. So far the striker has made a total of seven appearances for his country, netting three goals in three consecutive games. Vardy recently earned a spot on England’s roster for the 2016 European Championships in France this summer.

Best Moment: As it was a record-breaking season, there was no better moment for Vardy than when he broke Manchester United all-time European record goal scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy’s mark of 10 goals in 10 consecutive Premier League matches in typical Vardy fashion at Old Trafford, no less. It was truly a spectacular moment for an outstanding player.

Best Photo:

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League
That's how it looks when you break a record.
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

2015/16 Season Grade: A+

2016/17 Season Outlook: Although Vardy has been linked with a surprise move to West Ham United, it seems as though he’s set to continue with the Foxes, signing a new £80,000 per weekdeal in February to keep him at the King Power until 2019.

Shinji Okazaki

The Japanese international came in this summer for a fee believed to be in the region of £7 million from Bundesliga side FSV Mainz 05. Japan’s third all-time highest goal scorer slotted into the Foxes lineup with relative ease. Okazaki quickly made a name for himself in the Premier League thanks to his unbelievable work ethic up top, providing excellent support for Vardy and scoring at crucial moments. His short time at Leicester has also seen him develop into a fan favorite.

Best Moment: His sensational, game-winning bicycle kick against a well-organized Newcastle United side back in March. This goal slotted Leicester 5 points clear at the top of the Premier League; giving them some much needed confidence to propel themselves to the title.

Best Photo:

Leicester City v Newcastle United - Premier League
Head over heels.
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

2015/16 Season Grade: A-

2016/17 Season Outlook: Okazaki looks set to stay on for next season, especially due to the recent departure of Andrej Kramarić. Okazaki can continue to prove himself as a useful player. His work ethic epitomizes the spirit of Leicester. That said, I do believe he’ll fill into more of a backup role as the Foxes look to add another top-level striker to partner with Vardy. The veteran will continue to display an all-out, workhorse mentality despite his increasing age.

Leonardo Ulloa

Ulloa found himself as the third striker this season, generally slotting in for Okazaki early into the second half of any given match. Leo also played a vital role in Leicester’s title success, scoring a total of 6 goals in 29 matches.

Best Moment: The moment I’ll remember for the rest of the season is Ulloa calmly slotting it home from the spot to draw 2-2 with West Ham at the King Power. Although a penalty should technically always favor the shooter, it takes true resolve and composure to convert, especially in a game that had such a detrimental impact to the title race. Ulloa took it with absolutely no fear. That passion is something Leicester fans always love about him.

Best Photo:

Leicester City v West Ham United - Premier League
Outdoor voices only.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

2015/16 Season Grade: B+

2016/17 Season Outlook: With the limited number of strikers currently in the squad, it looks like reinforcements will be coming in this summer, especially with the added Champions League fixtures in store. That said, Ulloa should stay on as he provides decent coverage as far as squad depth goes.

Demarai Gray

Gray came into the Leicester team in January as an exciting prospect. Able to play as a striker or a winger, the former Birmingham man’s first team opportunities were limited. He often found himself fitting in towards the later stages of games. His blistering pace proved a nuisance to the tired legs of the opposition as well as his ability to run the clock during tight games. Gray was a valuable rotation player in the latter half of the Foxes campaign.

Best Moment: My favorite Demarai Gray game came against Swansea. Gray put on an absolute clinic in a 4-0 thrashing of the Swans, taking the ball from deep in the Foxes half and maneuvering his way through various Swansea defenders along the right flank. He was able to send in a beauty of a cross for Marc Albrighton to slot home. It was pretty much a perfect showcase of everything Gray’s capable of and why we are all looking forward to seeing how he progresses in a Leicester shirt.

2015/16 Season Grade: B+

2016/17 Season Outlook: Gray is set to stay on with the Foxes and should be set to pick up some additional fixtures, specifically in cup competitions as Leicester’s squad look to take on the aforementioned Champions League fixtures.

Andrej Kramarić

Leicester’s record signing has recently completed a permanent move to Bundesliga side TSG Hoffenheim. It’s fair to say that he failed to make his mark on the Leicester first team, something not too impressive for a record signing. He seemed to gel well with the squad while he was here, so at least that’s something.

Best Moment: It’s hard to really find one moment that really sticks out as he rarely featured, but I’d probably go with Kramarić’s header in a 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa in the FA Cup, because it was honestly a pretty nice header.

2015/16 Season Grade: C+

Joseph Dodoo

Claudio Ranieri has displayed some praise for the young Leicester academy prospect, as Dodoo made both his full Foxes debut as well as his Premier League debut this season.

Best Moment: Dodoo’s best moment I’d have to say came on his Leicester City first team debut in a 4-1 thrashing of Bury in the second round of the League Cup. The young striker scored himself a hat-trick, the first of those being an absolute beauty of a goal after demonstrating some excellent skill to flick the ball into the air, controlling it well to smash it home on the volley. It really highlights everything Dodoo is capable of as a player.

2016/17 Season Outlook: Dodoo’s role next season, if he is to stay at the club, will most likely be primarily in cup games, especially now due to the clogged fixture schedule. There’s also a good chance he could be sent out on loan to gain some valuable first team experience. Ranieri thinks very highly of him as one of the team’s brightest young prospects. Dodoo should start to break into the first-team squad next season.