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 and Defenders, today we’ll look at the Midfielders.
The big one here is obviously Riyad Mahrez. He wants out and, as I said at the time, it’s probably in the best interest of the club to let him leave, as long as someone is willing pay a good price for him. Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid are the clubs currently linked; if any of those is real interest, the fee should be big enough.
Barring a large, unexpected bid, the rest of the midfield looks pretty stable. Drinkwater, Ndidi and Albrighton all look set to stay on next year and, if Mahrez leaves, Demarai Gray should be stepping into a starting role. If he gets some indication that that’s likely to be the case, I don't expect to see the young winger looking to move away and the Leicester Mercury are very clear that any claims about a release clause in his contract are untrue.
Huge month ahead starts now— D R G (@22Demarai) May 31, 2017
His frustration at a lack of pitch time has shown though, so he could look to leave if Mahrez stays, or another winger is brought in to start. Liverpool are reportedly interested, but he would surely struggle for selection just as much there, if not more.
Similarly, though in a much reduced role, Bartosz Kapustka (remember him?) must surely be looking to see the pitch more than he has, and could be loaned out if he’s not in the first team plans. Very brief transfer record Nampalys Mendy will also be looking for a bigger role after struggling in his first year, but there’s been little interest from outside and I’d expect the club to give him another chance.
One big transfer out may pave the way for a big signing too. The Foxes are showing heavy interest in Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, another who shone on a bad team, and another that we’ve chased before. The creative Icelander would likely take the role currently occupied by Shinji Okazaki, but is more of a midfielder than a forward. He also adds set piece ability that this team has lacked for years. Right now the signs look good for this one, although the fee has been reported as high as £30m.
With Drinkwater and Ndidi starting, the return of Mendy from his injury troubles and Matty James from a very successful loan spell, the ever present Andy King and the positional flexibility of Daniel Amartey, an addition in central midfield looks unlikely. The club reportedly still have interest in Adrien Silva, who you may remember from a collapsed deadline day deal last summer, but the team has bigger gaps to fill at the moment.
The wings seem a little thinner behind Gray and Albrighton. There are bodies there in the aforementioned Kapustka as well as Ahmed Musa and Tom Lawrence (both of whom I’m covering as forwards because that line is confusing and intangible), but the team needs to make some decisions on whether those payers are good enough to keep around. There don't seem to be any players linked there after the January interest in gaston Ramirez appears to have cooled off.
In all, I think it’s much more about quality than quantity here. One big move in and one out look pretty likely right now, and it wouldn't surprise me if that was it for the midfield.