As the Fosse Posse’s own Jack Lee noted earlier this week, Leicester City do not need to sell Harry Maguire this summer. However, while all transfer rumors should be regarded as rubbish until proven otherwise, it is starting to like like the former Hull City defender will be plying his trade in Manchester next season.
It would only be prudent to put together a list of possible replacements and make sure that the list contained one or two players who have actually been linked with the Foxes this off-season.
In keeping with Leicester’s current transfer policy, we’re only going to be looking at players who:
- Are young, or at least no older than 27 years old.
- Are not currently playing for teams who will be playing in one of the European tournaments next year.
We’ll start with the players who have been legitimately linked with City, but faithful followers who remember my speculation regarding a Riyad Mahrez replacement have already guessed that I’ll be casting a wider net. Spoiler alert: Some of these aren’t going to be especially realistic, but that’s part of the fun of transfer speculation. With that out of the way, let’s look at the likely candidates:
Current club: Brighton and Hove Albion (17th in Premier League)
Dunk has been a mainstay for the Seagulls and, for the most part, he’s been excellent. Brighton’s system ensures that the defenders will be busy and Dunk has been up to the task, putting up excellent numbers every year except for 2018-19. Therein lies the concern with him: He saw a real drop in form last season, ranking as just the 38th best centre-half in the Premier League. He still throws himself in front of shots as well as anyone, but his distribution is suspect and he failed to dominate in the air like he has in the past.
Dunk’s name is the most-often mentioned one when the press speculate who might replace Maguire. Brighton are rumoured to want £40m, which seems awfully high for a player coming off of a poor season by his standards. If, and it’s a big if, the Leicester scouts believe that his drop in form was temporary and he’ll likely regain his previously-established level, then he might just be worth it.
Current club: Burnley (15th in Premier League)
James Tarkowski has long been on the Foxes’ wish list but Burnley’s qualification for the Europa League in 2017 doubtless played a part in his decision to stick with the Clarets. There will be no European nights at Turf Moor next season, so it is more realistic to think that Sean Dyche might be persuaded to sell.
The price is bound to be high. Tarkowski has been a level above Dunk over the last two season; dominant in the air, a strong tackler, and seldom caught out of position. Like Dunk, he’s clearly a defense-first centre-half who isn’t as comfortable on the ball as Maguire, but otherwise? He’s a top notch defender who would make losing Slabhead a lot less painful.
Current club: Bristol City (8th in League Championship)
Adam Webster’s name has come up several times this summer as a possible target for Leicester City. He made the Team of the Season in the Championship last term and looks for all the world to be ready for a step up to the top flight, but is he ready to step up and play for a club with European aspirations? That’s a difficult question to answer.
He certainly ticks all the boxes you’d want in a Premier League defender. He’s tall, he’s more comfortable carrying the ball out of defense than Dunk or Tarkowski, and is adept at winning the ball without having to dive into tackles. There’s more risk here than with the other two, but surely the price would be lower and there’s a very real chance that he could slot in without missing a beat.
And now we leave the realm of likely candidates and take a look at some of the defenders in Europe’s top leagues who could be available and might be able to do the job in the English top flight.
Current club: VfB Stuttgart (16th and relegated in Bundesliga)
Marc-Oliver Kempf started 23 matches for Stuttgart last season and had he started all 34, they may well have avoided relegation. Kempf is a savvy centre-half who does all of the things you want a good defender to do, but none of them exceptionally well, so he’s easy to overlook. Like many defenders, he’s not a great distributor of the ball and prefers to hoof it instead of taking chances in his own area.
He’s only one year into a four year deal for Die Schwaben, but their relegation to the creatively-named 2.Bundesliga might prompt him to look for greener pastures. He’s only 24 but, given his performance last season, he doesn’t need to get better; if he can just maintain this level of play, he’d be a bargain.
Current club: Rayo Vallecano (20th and relegated in La Liga)
Height: 6’ 0”
Emiliano Velazquez is an Uruguayan centre-half who has provided more promise than product to this point, but seemed to be coming in to his own at the end of last season. The former Atletico Madrid man never appeared in a match for the Atleti, instead spending three seasons on loan at Getafe, Braga, and Rayo Vallecano. He transferred to Vallecano on a permanent basis last July and, after a slow start, was their best player for much of the season.
Velazquez is smaller than the other players considered here, but he’s a fierce tackler and reads play well. He’s tries to play the ball out of defense more than the other players here, and more successfully as well. He’d be a very different player than Maguire, but he’s a good one based on fairly limited evidence. With Vallecano relegated, Velazquez could be available for a reasonable bid, but he’s a bigger risk than anyone else on this list.
Current club: Deportivo Alaves (10th in La Liga)
Height: 6’ 3”
Guillermo Maripan made huge strides as the anchor of the Alaves defense in 2018-19. After an indifferent debut season, the Chilean was an absolute rock for Babazorros El Glorioso, contributing at both ends of the pitch with two goals and two assists. If we want one man to replace Maguire’s contribution on set pieces, this is the pick of the litter.
Alaves finished 10th in La Liga last year, so they’re under no pressure to sell but it might be worth spending a little extra for Maripan. He’s aces in the air and an excellent tackler, which isn’t the most common combination. From a strictly aesthetic standpoint, he brings a tremendous amount of energy to the game as well and his teammates seem to feed off of it. Of course, we have no clue what he would cost, but if I had to focus on just one player on this list, it might well be Maripan.
OK, I’ve said my bit. Now it’s your turn:
Who do YOU think the Foxes should turn to if the unthinkable were to happen and Harry Maguire were to leave the King Power?
This poll is closed
None of the above - we can do better!
We have Evans, Morgan, Söyüncü, and Benkovic. We don’t need another defender.