Preparation for the 2019/20 season is underway for Leicester City, kicking off in full this week with a training camp in Evian, before their friendlies begin next week in the equally exotic Scunthorpe.
As the club release photos from France, it’s pretty clear that the players are in high spirits, but the return of one player has been making a particular impact.
It’s not just the players who are delighted either. Fans have been absolutely thrilled to see Youri Tielemans reunited with the rest of the squad, and there’s a genuine air of optimism over a team that’s headed towards the top six.
From an inside perspective it makes a lot of sense, but look at it from the outside: last season we finished 9th, ahead of West Ham United only on goal difference, and everyone is ecstatic to see us bring back exactly the same players.
Youri Tielemans gave up chance of a poss move to #mufc and told his agent he wanted to sign for #lcfc now, rather than delaying in case Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a bid, I understand.— Rob Dorsett (@RobDorsettSky) July 9, 2019
Tieleman's agent was keen to wait in case Pogba leaves Utd and OGS moved for Tielemans.
Even the other £30m transfer this summer was more of upgrade than an addition. Ayoze Perez was, compared to our recent transfer trends, a relatively safe move. The Foxes decided to fill the role vacated by Shinji Okazaki with a known commodity at this level.
Still the optimism isnt misplaces, and mostly comes from the end of last season, where the Foxes won 6 of their last 11. It wasn’t just the results, either. Their form down the stretch, particularly after Brendan Rodgers took over, gave us all perfectly valid reasons to hope for a much better position at the end of next season.
That feeling has only been reinforced by the waves of positivity coming out of the club. The owners have grand plans for the club, and their new manager has arrived with a plan to take us there. The more we hear, it’s becomes clearer that all of the players have bought into that vision as well.
It feels great, honestly, because the second part of the season went very good for me and for the team as well. That’s what I wanted and I wanted to keep it like that – playing in a positive mood and a positive club with a lot of ambition and a lot of potential too - Tielemans spoke to LCFC.com after signing
Whether all of the squad is confident that we can finish ahead of Manchester United, well, we’ll find out over the next month.
All signs at the moment suggest that everyone else will be staying. If a huge sum isnt offered for Maguire, then the club have honestly surpassed all expectations for the window, just by holding onto such an exciting young squad.
James Maddison was one of the league’s best chance creators, Wilfred Ndidi and Tielemans both showed the quality to run a midfield, while Ben Chilwell dominated the left hand side well enough to win himself a place the England team. All of those players are just 22, and with Leicester for the foreseeable future. It’s not unreasonable to hope all of them are even better next year.
As they go through the summer together, Rodgers has the chance to really install his own system from top to bottom as he hasn't before, and there’s a genuine belief from many, including myself, that next year we wont have to hold on so tightly, because we’ll be back in European competition.