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Leo Ulloa: the unrecognised key to the rise of Leicester City

The big man is headed back to Brighton

Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

It’s been one of the quietest transfer windows for a long time. Fousseni Diabaté joined to fairly little fanfare, but there’s been almost no other talk, other than the suggestion that a few unwanted fringe players would be making a long awaited departure. Today one of those deals was finalised, with Leo Ulloa returning to his former team Brighton and Hove Albion on loan.

It was a move that surprised no one. Ulloa has found himself so far down the pecking order these days that he couldnt make the squad against League One opposition in the cup. I had to scroll across to page 14 in our image search to find a picture of him actually playing in a game.

I don’t think thats unreasonable either. I’m not going out on a limb by saying that Jamie Vardy is the better striker. So are Shinji Okazaki, Islam Slimani and Kelechi Iheancho. He’s also not much of a fit for the current system.

But what I will say is that, in my eyes, Leo Ulloa is a true Leicester City legend, and should be remembered with nothing but the fondest of thoughts.

Most of the talk about Ulloa these days revolves around his role in the title winning season, and that’s fair enough. It was a pretty big season for us. When all seemed lost after Vardy’s red card, up stepped big Leo to score the penalty, and then follow it up with two goals against Swansea the following week.

What I would like to point out is that his impact on the history of this club has been so, so much larger than that.

One fact often lost in the story of The Greatest Escape is that the team actually got off to a flying start that year, and a huge part of that was down to Ulloa bagging five goals in the first five games.

One in a draw vs Everton, one in a draw vs Arsenal, one in a one-goal win over Stoke City and two in a two-goal win against Manchester United. I make that 6 points worth of goals.

Anyone want to guess at how many points ahead of relegated Hull City we finished?

Ok, so we’d have still been ahead on goal difference. The point is that our comeback, like all good rebellions, was built on hope. Without Ulloa, that hope wouldn't have made it past Christmas.

The club has moved on from then. We used to think “he cost a f*cking fortune” at £8m. Two of his eventual replacements cost more than three times that amount.

This deal is only until the end of the season, but it seems clear that the Argentine’s time here is over. If it hadn't been for Craig Shakespeare, it probably would (and should) have happened this summer. He’s not good enough for this team anymore.

But Leo Ulloa’s well timed goals make him one of the most important players in the recent history of the club and I certainly hope that’s how he’s remembered.