Last season, Leicester City Director of Football John Rudkin took plenty of stick from the fans over a poor summer transfer widow, failing to take advantage of their title winning season and push onwards.
The club had very little say in the cut-price the departure of N’golo Kanté, and the real disappointment was in the reinvestment. Hindsight obviously tells us that the players weren't worth what was paid for them, but there was also unrest at the time that Leicester had failed in their opportunity to become a “big” club.
That might not be the case, however, particularly as the financial might of the Premier League continues to grow.
This summer, we’ve gone about our business quickly and efficiently (if you ignore Iheanacho’s agents) and brought in our preferred targets with little fuss. There hasn't been much room for complaint. So far. The real test of the window it seems will be controlling our departures, but at the moment Rudkin and company are passing that test.
We should all be pretty familiar with the Riyad Mahrez situation by now. He’s publicly stated a desire to leave and AS Roma have expressed a willingness to sign him. The problem is that Leicester value the player in the current market at £50m and, with him signed on for three more years, are by no means desperate to sell.
The Italian side have attempted to strong-arm the Foxes into a sale way below their valuation. They’ve thrown out low offer after low offer, trying to turn up the media pressure on a small club who, apparently, ought to sell because Roma want us to.
The Foxes, to their credit, have not wavered once all summer. They don’t want to sell their best player, but will do if their valuation is met. If it isn’t, you can look elsewhere because they aren't negotiating.
Maybe that stance will soften as we come closer to the end of the window, but if you consider the rumoured replacements lined up (exactly no one), it’s looking less and less likely.
Whether you view that as a win or a backfire for Leicester is going to come down to personal opinion. Are Leicester City better off without their most technically gifted player? It sounds like a stupid question, but at this point it’s honestly hard to be certain either way. At the end of the season, one side of the argument is going to look clearly right, but it could still go a number of ways, there’s no doubt.
We are a club who don't need to sell, which is vitally important. We don't want to be a selling club I think we've got owners who want to keep their best players - manager Craig Shakespeare was pretty clear on what he wants
It’s important to note, however, that this definitely isn't a reaction to the specific Mahrez situation. We’ve been here before and we’ll do it again.
Most notably in the past, we’ve seen this stubbornness on the acquisition side, occasionally leading to accusations of the club being cheap. “If the player’s good enough, just pay what they ask and get him in”. If the asking price was above our valuation, however, The Foxes often stood and looked at other targets.
That’s part of why we often seem to be linked with the same players year after year. Ahmed Musa, for example, was hunted throughout January 2016, as the team was trying to hold on to the top of the Premier League. Unfortunately, CSKA Moscow were holding out for something close to his £22.8m release clause. The Foxes valued him at closer to £18m.
Fast forward a few months and it seemed like excellent business, as we eventually landed him for £16m. Of course, that wasn't actually a good deal in the end, but you can see the process.
It looks like cheapness, but as we see the club turn this attitude towards sales as well, you can see that it’s just the policy of the business people who run the club. Every player has a value. If the two clubs don’t agree on that value, there won't be a transfer.
Mahrez is the headline magnet, but the same thing is happening with Danny Drinkwater and Chelsea at the moment.
Leicester City tell Chelsea they must pay £40m for Danny Drinkwater https://t.co/FwP9WGaz9P— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) August 16, 2017
Chelsea apparently offered £15 and were told that the price is £40m. They countered with £25m. It’s the same misunderstanding we’ve had with Roma. It’s not a negotiation, it’s a price tag.
Money is almost no object for Leicester City with the current owners and money flooding into the league at the moment. We don’t have to sell anyone. As Craig Shakespeare has reiterated at almost every press conference this summer, we don’t want to sell either.
With rumours appearing in recent days linking Ahmed Musa to Hull City and Islam Slimani to Watford, it will be interesting to see whether our hardline tactic is kept to with players we’re more than willing to lose. The answer is probably yes, it’s just that the asking price will be lower.
It’s hard to blame Roma or Chelsea for the way they’ve gone about these deals. In the not too distant past, tactics like this would probably have forced us into selling both players below our own value.
Not any more. Leicester City can't be bullied on price these days and I’m glad to see it.