By most accounts, Leicester City had an outstanding transfer period. FourFourTwo ranked City's window 4th in the Premier League, behind only West Bromich, Manchester United, and Swansea. We picked up a young, soon-to-be capped centre-half, two classy Iberian midfielders, a 20-year-old striker with an uncanny eye for goal, depth at centre-half, and proper cover for Kasper Schmeichel between the sticks, with Danny Drinkwater the only significant departure.
This is not to say, however, that we accomplished everything we set out to do during this window. City are now facing three problems of depth; too little at right back and too much up front and on the wings. You might say "That's a nice problem to have!" but unless Craig Shakespeare can come up with a formation that uses three wingers and three strikers, there aren't going to be enough minutes on the pitch to keep everyone happy.
The most straightforward concern is the lack of cover at right back. Danny Simpson is a perfectly fine player at the position, but we don't have any true right back in the squad to provide cover should he get injured or when he gets suspended. The reason we don't have another proper right back is that, two years ago, we let Ritchie De Laet go when he'd fallen behind Simpson, and De Laet wasn't going to be satisfied with sitting on the bench (hint: This is foreshadowing).
Currently, our backup at right back is Daniel Amartey, who is really a defensive midfielder. He can handle the defensive duties adequately, but he's not anyone's idea of an ideal fullback. City are rumoured to be interested in former Manchester City man Bacary Sagna who has bags of experience at the position and, at 34, would likely accept a role on the bench. He'd be able to bridge the gap until England U20 international Darnell Johnson is ready for first-team action, but we may yet regret not addressing this need more forcefully during the windows.
While we have a dearth of fullbacks, our embarrassment of riches on the wings has the potential to be a much bigger problem. If the rumours were to be believed, three of Leicester's four wide men were on their way out, with only Marc Albrighton remaining in the fold. As it turns out, none of the moves materialized and City still have Riyad Mahrez, Demarai Gray, and Ahmed Musa in the squad. In theory, Mahrez' was going to move on and Gray would slot in to his starting role with Musa providing cover. In that scenario, everyone's getting minutes and reasonably happy.
No legitimate offers came in for Mahrez, and now City have a problem. The Algerian is unhappy to be here, although by all accounts he’s continued to work hard for the team. Gray feels he should be starting, and quite rightly so. Even club-record signing Musa won't be happy to be the 4th option at the position.
None of Shakespeare's options look great. Rotating three starters won't satisfy anyone. Starting the former Birmingham City man over Mahrez could create a toxic situation in the boot room and kill the Algeria international's market value. Playing Mahrez over the England U21 international will likely ensure they both leave within a year. Sitting Albrighton would not only be unfair to a player who works as hard as the former Villa man does, it's hard to see how we would be a better club. This one's a time bomb, and it bears watching over the coming months.
The other situation the Foxes' brass failed to sort out during the window is the glut of strikers. We currently have five in the squad and, even with with our unfashionable two-striker formation, there just aren't enough opportunities for five of them. Leo Ulloa and/or Islam Slimani seemed the most likely to move elsewhere, but Ulloa signed a contract extension and no deal was made to sell Slimani. Ulloa seems ready to accept his role on the bench, but Slimani is just one year removed from a club record £30m move from Sporting. He came for Champion's League football and can't be happy to be the 4th choice behind Jamie Vardy, Shinji Okazaki, and Kelechi Iheanacho.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m more worried about trying to find enough game time for our wingers than I am about the shortage at right back. It hurts to admit that Mahrez is going to leave in January. If we can’t keep Gray happy, we run the risk of souring the relationship with him and losing him as well. It’s not going to be easy, “keeping Demarai Gray” needs to be near the top of Shakespeare’s priorities for this year.