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Leicester City transfer window preview

The possible ins and the probable outs of the January window

Newcastle United v Leicester City - Premier League
Claude Puel searching the stands for a healthy right back.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

The January 2018 transfer window finds Leicester City in an enviable position. The biggest piece of business was completed early this summer, leaving only one obvious need left to fill. If anything, the Foxes have too many first team players. Expect more departures from the King Power this winter than new arrivals.

Leicester have been more successful seeking bargains than they have making huge purchases. None of the club-record signings of two years ago have settled in, and last summer’s biggest addition is still struggling to make an impact.

In general, you don’t remake your squad in January; you look to bolster one or two positions, and that’s something City are especially good at (do the names “Huth” or “Ndidi” ring any bells?). Here’s a quick look at the players who are rumoured to be coming in this January and those who may be on their way out:


In:

Adrien Silva (central midfielder, Sevilla)

The longest 14 seconds in Premier League history are set to end when the window opens. What looked like a crowded central midfield thinned out when Silva’s registration was adjudged to have been too late, Matty James suffered yet another long-term injury, and Vicente Iborra struggled to find his fitness early in the year. As soon as Silva is up to full match fitness, he will likely slot in as the regular partner for Wilfred Ndidi in the Leicester midfield.

Andre Almeida (right back, Benfica)

City have been riding their luck with Danny Simpson for two full years now. Without a true right back behind him, Simpson’s consistent health and form have been invaluable to the Foxes. With Simpson injured, the urgency to bring in another right back moved to the top of the transfer priority list and it is extremely unlikely they will leave it late.

Almeida is 27 years old and he’s in the best form of his life right now. He’s strong in the air, an excellent passer of the ball, and seldom gets caught out. Should City get this deal done, he seems a good bet to take over as the first choice at the position.

Hatem Ben Arfa

Ben Arfa is out of favor at PSG and he played very well for Claude Puel at Nice. For those two reasons, rumours of Ben Arfa coming to Leicester have been popping up ever since Puel’s arrival at the King Power. He would provide depth on the wings should Mahrez and Musa both leave, but surely there are better, younger, and cheaper options.

Other possibilities

If the Foxes fail to sign Alemeida, and even if they do, another right back may well be on the shopping list. Youth fullback Darnell Johnson is extremely promising, but his likely a year or two away from challenging for a role in the senior squad.

Should Mahrez and Musa both depart, another winger or perhaps even a central attacking midfielder would be another possible target. Other than that, it’s hard to see any big additions to the squad.


Out:

Note: The “chance of leaving” odds are entirely arbitrary and not meant for gambling purposes or really much of anything other than your own amusement.

Riyad Mahrez

Will Mahrez finally get his desired transfer to a Champions League club during this window? Last summer, City received offers from only one club, Roma, and those were well below the Foxes’ valuation of the Algerian wizard. His form is back near where it was when he won the PFA Player of the Year award, so one would expect better offers this time around. Much has already been made of the former Le Havre man as a potential replacement for Alexis should the Chilean leave Arsenal. Chance of leaving: 70%

Watford v Leicester City - Premier League
Mahrez, apparently trying to leap out of Vicarage Road.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Islam Slimani

The big Algerian never settled in to the Foxes’ starting XI after a club-record move from Sporting. He’s shown flashes of goal-scoring ability, but the kind of hold-up play Leicester wanted simply wasn’t in his kit bag. He didn’t even make the bench in the last Carabao Cup match and he’s clearly behind Leo Ulloa in Puel’s reckoning, so a move seems almost certain. Chance of leaving: 95%

Ahmed Musa

Another record signing who has failed to mark his place in the side, Musa’s opportunities have dried up completely this year. The Nigerian’s hopes of being in the World Cup squad depend on first team football, so will likely jump at any chance to move. The one confounding factor is that his likely landing place, Hull City, recently sacked Leonid Slutsky, who managed Musa with CSKA. Another is that a Mahrez departure would leave the Foxes short on the wings. Chance of leaving: 85%

Danny Amartey

Amartey was already on the outside looking in before he managed to get himself sent off as a substitute against Manchester United. If you’re trying to make an impression on your new manager, this is probably the worst way to do it. At his age, he really needs to play and he’s clearly not going to do that at the King Power, so his time may be up. Chance of leaving: 75%

Yohan Benalouane

Benalouane isn’t going to be seeing any first team football with the Foxes without there being a ridiculous rash of injuries. He’s stated he would like to return to Italy and there seems to be no reason not to grant him this wish. Chance of leaving: 60%

Kelechi Iheanacho

City’s biggest signing from last summer has struggled with both injury and form since joining the Foxes from Manchester City. He needs to get his confidence back, which means he needs to play, which means he needs to go....out on loan. There’s too much talent there to give up on him, but a loan would get him some pitch time and, hopefully, goals. Chance of leaving (on loan): 50%

Yes, Lee, I think that would probably do the trick...

Layton Ndukwu

The U23 winger’s form has caught the attention of Dutch side De Graafschap who are interested in taking Ndukwu on loan. While keeping him in the youth squad to receive coaching from Steve Beaglehole and his staff is undoubtedly a good thing, his future may be better served by playing more competitive matches in Europe. Chance of leaving (on loan): 40%

Nampalys Mendy

The third club-record signing of two summers ago, Mendy got hurt immediately and has never seriously challenged for a place in the starting XI. He’s currently out on loan at Nice in Ligue 1 where he’s started eight matches so far this year. He’ll remain on loan, but it’s hard to see Nice wanting to making this one permanent on his current form. Chance of leaving (on a permanent transfer): 10%

International Champions Cup 2016 - Paris Saint-Germain v Leicester City
Nampalys Mendy is still on the Leicester rolls. The more you know...
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Robert Huth

Huth’s contract is up at the end of the year, meaning he can sign a pre-contract agreement in January. With Harry Maguire ensconced in the lineup alongside Wes Morgan, the German may well decide it is in his best interest to settle his future sooner rather than later. I’ll hate to see him go, but I wouldn’t blame him. Chance of signing a pre-contract agreement: 30%

Andy King

With Wilfred Ndidi an automatic name on the team sheet, King will find himself up against Silva, Iborra and, eventually, James for game time. Fortunately, Andy King is one of the greatest Foxes of all time and there is no chance whatsoever that he will be leaving the King Power any time soon. Chance of leaving: 0%

Other possibilities

Because Leicester are in the top half of the table and not involved in Europe this year, the top players may be especially attractive to clubs involved in the Champions League. Jamie Vardy is a killer against top clubs, Christian Fuchs has bags of Champions League experience, and there aren’t many better wide players who aren’t cup-tied in Europe than Marc Albrighton. None of these players are likely to leave, but don’t be shocked if a wild rumour or two pops up involving them.

Watford v Leicester City - Premier League
Mentioning a highly-unlikely Vardy transfer was just an excuse to insert this photo
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images