First of all, hearty congratulations to Islam Slimani and former fox Riyad Mahrez for winning the Africa Cup of Nations yesterday. The Algerians saw off Sadio Mané’s Senegal 1-0 to win the competition for the 2nd time.
The Leicester City man only featured for one minute of the final, but was given a start in an earlier round and turned it into three goal contributions. It was certainly a more successful summer than any of our England contingent.
As much as a tournament win has to be seen as a positive for the individual, for Leicester City it’s had the slightly unfortunate side effect that he’s yet to meet up with his teammates.
In most cases that wouldn’t be a big issue; Wilfred Ndidi finished 3rd with Nigeria and hasn't reported back yet either, but the club knows what to expect from Wilf, and he from them.
Grateful— Ndidi Wilfred (@Ndidi25) July 17, 2019
Despite the rocky start to his time in Leicester, fans seemed genuinely excited earlier in the summer that a new manager might be willing to give Slimani the chance that others hadn’t and give him a fair crack at the squad.
After all, Brendan Rodgers arrived well after the Algerian left on loan, so hadn’t yet had an opportunity to asses the player for himself and make an informed decision.
The trouble there is, he still hasn’t had that chance. The 31 year old is away with Algeria and, assuming he’s given a few days off this summer, wont be back with the squad for at least another week.
The Foxes may only be two weeks into their preseason preparations, but they have just three left to prepare for the start of the Premier League season. Possibly only two by the time Slimani is back.
He would have to get off to a blistering start to move ahead of several players who have already taken their chance to impress the boss.
If he doesn’t, the club might have to start looking at even closer deadline: the end of the summer transfer window on August 8th.
As we’ve already discussed, this squad is far to big and will have to cut out several players before that deadline, or leave them to sit in the development squad. If Rodgers can’t be sure what he’s going to get from Slimani, surely he can’t hand him one of his precious 25 Premier League squad places.
There’s an issue with this solution though as well: a transfer, or even loan, needs another willing participant. So far, there’s not been even a hint of leaked interest from anywhere.
The big striker scored just one league goal in 15 appearances for Fenerbahce, so they won’t be knocking down the door to bring him back.
Rodgers has expressed that he’s still looking for more attacking options, and has shown that he’s comfortable with Perez out wide. That might mean that Slimani’s best chance of good football this season is to blow away the new staff right from the start, but he’s quickly running out of time.