We’re continuing our series taking an early look at potential arrivals and departures from Leicester City during the upcoming transfer window. Following on from Goalkeepers, today we’ll look at the Defenders.
It doesn't feel like there will be much movement in this direction, probably because the Foxes are thin and old at the back. The club has already announced that Marcin Wasilewski, who definitely qualifies as old and definitely not as thin (please don't tell him I said that) will be leaving at the end of his contract. Plenty of teams in the Championship or other European leagues should be interested, but only because he’s free.
One slightly unusual rumour that has been floated is that Newcastle are interested in Wes Morgan. If his career is starting to wind down, moving on now might be the smart move, but only if replacements are already in. The captaincy would also become an issue, particularly if Kasper Schmeichel was sold.
Chilwell and Gray make the final England under-21 squad for this summer's European Championship finals #LCFC— Rob Tanner (@RobTannerMerc) June 5, 2017
The only other defender that could be leaving is Ben Chilwell; Liverpool were in for him last summer and appear to have not given up, but the club values his future highly and he’s got 4 years of his new contract left, so the price would be high. However, he’s admitted to being frustrated on the bench for the Foxes, so I doubt he’d move to another bench. That said, if he we can't guarantee more game time, he may try to force a move to someone who can.
If you’re only bracing yourself for one thing this transfer window, make it this: we’re going to spend so much on a defender that it’s going to make you angry.
The obvious target appears to be Michael Keane of Burnley. We were in hard to sign him last summer and in January, but the Clarets weren't willing to sell, so an improved offer might be necessary. Still, £30m wasn't enough to get the deal done last time, and that was before he was comfortably their player of the season, earned an England call up and was linked with a transfer back to his boyhood team Manchester United. This could get expensive.
I said in the Goalkeepers section that this summer’s theme was great individual performers from bad teams and Keane is not the only one who fits the bill. The relegated duo of Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough) and Harry Maguire (Hull City), plus Alfie Mawson from an often awful Swansea City side all had standout seasons and could be on the move. Given an occasional lack of vocal, on-field leadership this season, Middlesbrough captain Gibson would seem a particularly good option.
There’s no shortage of links at CB, including previous transfer targets like Kara Mdboji of Anderlecht, Francesco Acerbi of Sassuolo and Wesley Hoedt of Lazio. The Italian Acerbi seems likely to me, given the relative youth and inexperience of all the other candidates, Leicester’s frantic efforts to sign him in January and his recent statement that he will be leaving the club this summer.
Given our age and lack of depth at the back, I really wouldn't be surprised if one of the younger players mentioned is also brought in. The time to sign these players was last year, however (and we were linked with most of them), and the price this summer will be sky high. Fortunately we have plenty of money right now.
As far as I can tell, no fullbacks have been linked to the club at all. On the left hand side this makes sense, but Danny Simpson remains our only full time right back. The club must have plenty of faith in Daniel Amartey.