This summer is widely regarded as a big one for the club, and with Claude Puel continuing as Leicester City manager, it is also a pivotal summer for him.
Poor performances and results in the second half of last season led to the Foxes losing out on a potential Europa League spot, and it was a frustrating few months for the owners and fans alike.
For Puel’s sake, he needs to have a good summer transfer window to regain the full support of the fans and the players, and to also reinstall the full trust of Khun Top and Vichai.
What is the future of these players at Leicester City?
Eldin Jakupovic - With the departure of Ben Hamer, it now looks as if Eldin Jakupovic will be the first choice competition for Kasper Schmeichel in goal next season.
Both Hamer and Jakupovic were alternated frequently last season whenever Schmeichel didn’t play, and for Jakupovic, his move from Hull City last summer hasn’t quite gone to plan so far. The 33 year old openly admitted on his move to Leicester he would find it difficult to gain the number one spot ahead of Kasper Schmeichel, but his frustration has come from the fact he wasn’t the immediate choice to come in for Schmeichel last season.
Daniel Amartey - Since arriving at the club, Daniel Amartey hasn’t pinned down an exact position, and is, in essence, a utility player capable of playing in defence and midfield.
Puel did opt to play Amartey at right-back on a few occasions last season, but looking ahead it will be interesting to see how Amartey’s future will pan out. As we know, Puel is a fan of youth and at the age of 23, maybe Amartey still has a place in Puel’s plans. It is always useful having a player who can cover a variety of positions and maybe Puel sees that.
It is also a question of whether Amartey himself is happy with the current situation, not a first team regular and utilised when required.
You would say it’s difficult for him to stake a claim in midfield, with the fresh competition of Hamza Choudhury, and in defence with the added arrival of right-back Ricardo Pereira. Currently the club are thin on the ground when it comes to centre-backs, but it’s likely there will be incomings for this position.
Maybe a loan deal for Amartey could be good for all parties, and it’s something which I feel is a possibility. Daniel has showed he has potential with a couple of standout displays during his time here, and maybe on loan and played in a certain position every week, he could really benefit from that.
Yohan Benalouane - Since signing in August 2015, Yohan Benalouane has made a total of 16 Premier League appearances, with his other displays for the club coming from separate competitions.
For me, Benalouane gets a lot of unfair criticism, and fans tend to forget his performances which helped the turnaround under Craig Shakespeare towards the end of the 2016/17 season. A particular performance comes to mind at Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, where he was magnificent.
But used sparingly under Claude Puel last season, there is a sense that this summer will see Benalouane’s time at Leicester come to an end. Unless of course, Puel wants Benalouane as an option for cover in defence, and I suspect the club will hang fire on him leaving the club until any new centre-backs come in.
Demarai Gray - Demarai Gray is a player with a lot of potential, which, for me, hasn’t been fully realised yet. The 21 year old hasn’t quite managed to cement a regular starting place at Leicester, and understandably he has become frustrated.
Gray’s wonderful solo run in Puel’s first game in charge against Everton was a great start under his new boss. And in Puel’s first few months in charge, Gray featured frequently and it seemed this was his time to push on. While continuing to interchange with Marc Albrighton/Shinji Okazaki during 2017/18, the January signing of Fousseni Diabate provided even more competition for a starting place in Puel’s eleven.
With his ambition, there is a possibility that Gray might move on this summer, where he can play more regularly with another club. Tottenham and AFC Bournemouth are two clubs who have been interested in Gray before, and they may rekindle their interest in the winger again this summer.
Andy King - Andy King’s loan move to Swansea City last season seemed to be a good fit, and on his move King said he would be happy to stay at Swansea permanently this summer. However Swansea’s relegation to the Championship and Carlos Carvahal’s departure has changed the situation for King.
With the competition in midfield, the 29 year old found it difficult to be involved in Claude Puel’s match day squads last season, prompting his loan move to Swansea in January for game-time. The change in situation at Swansea does leave King’s future up in the air, and whilst Puel hasn’t ruled out keeping him at Leicester, I’m unsure if he will be able to make the side on a regular enough basis.
The competition in midfield is fierce, and as such there could be departures in that area this summer. It might still turn out King returns to being a member of the squad again next season.
Matty James - For me, I think it could be between Matty James and Nampalys Mendy as to who stays and leaves this summer. James enjoyed a stint of games under Puel in the 2017/18 campaign, but another unfortunate injury meant he didn’t feature for the entirety of the season.
As with the other centre midfielders, game-time will be on the minds of each of them. If James can’t get a look in regularly enough, there is a possibility he may look to move elsewhere.
Having said that, as proven last season, I think Matty James is the kind of player Claude Puel likes, and so, I’d imagine he will want James to remain a member of his squad next season.
Nampalys Mendy - This is an interesting one. Nampalys Mendy has featured very lightly for Leicester since his arrival in the summer of 2016, with injury trouble being a continual hassle.
On loan at OGC Nice in 2017/18, Mendy was Claude Puel’s captain at the same club a few years ago. Could Mendy be given a fresh start under Puel next season?
Bartosz Kapustka - Since arriving at the King Power for the 2016/17 campaign, Kapustka hasn’t been given a much of a chance to show what he could do with the first team. As you can see from his performance data at transfermarkt.com, outside of Premier League 2 and a few FA Cup matches, he did not play at all. Not much information is available about Kapustka unless you are willing to utilize Google Translate. If so, it appears a move to Polish side Legia is in the works. Given the lack of opportunities presented to Kapustka at Leicester, a move away seems to make the most sense.
Ahmed Musa - Musa is another player who didn’t get any Premier League pitch time last season. He managed to make the bench for a December 30th match versus Liverpool. As far as the PL goes, that was it. Could a good showing for Nigeria in the World Cup make a difference? Or, after scoring seven goals in 16 appearances for CSKA Moscow, would Musa prefer to move to a place where he knows he will play? News reports state CSKA Moscow is eyeing a permanent move for Musa, and unless he is given assurances of playing time or a fee for his transfer can not be agreed upon, a move back to his old club is likely in the cards.
Leonardo Ulloa - Brighton and Hove Albion are reportedly not interested in bringing Ulloa back next season. Given the long spells toward the end of last season in which either Jamie Vardy scored or no one scored for Leicester, would Puel want to keep Ulloa on as a late-game option? Or would the idea of a pairing a player who will be 32 years old before the start of the next campaign with a 31 year-old striker in Vardy be too unappealing an option? Because of his age Ulloa’s options may be limited, but odds are he has a better chance of getting playing time elsewhere.
Islam Slimani - Slimani spent the second half of the season on loan at Newcastle United. The Magpies are not interested in his return. Understandable given that Slimani only played a total of 131 minutes for the club, scoring zero goals. Fenerbahce has reportedly shown interest (Google translate to the rescue, once again!) as have Slimani’s old club Sporting Lisbon.
Slimani did manage to play in three matches for Leicester in late December and January before going out on loan, including playing 90 minutes against Huddersfield, a match in which he scored a goal. So it’s possible Puel would be willing to give him another chance. However, if Puel wanted to see what he had in Slimani, the Algerian would not have been loaned out in the first place.
It is thought Islam Slimani would want a move away from the King Power Stadium this summer, and if the forward’s future does not lie at Leicester City, for any deal to happen the club will want to try and recoup as much of Slimani’s acquisition fee as possible in order to make way for his departure.