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Grading Leicester City’s transfer window

The Foxes did good business, but did they do enough business?

Leicester City v West Ham United - Premier League
Behold: The future of football!
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Leicester City have completed their transfer window business for the “summer” of 2020 and, despite leaving it a little late, look to have made some shrewd moves. However, with the first team squad riddled with injuries and about to embark on a European Adventure™, did they do enough? Let’s take a look!

Transfers Out:

Bartosz Kaputska to Legia Warsaw (undisclosed amount)
Ben Chilwell to Chelsea (£50,000,000)
Fousseni Diabate to Tabzonspor (undisclosed amount)
Adrien Silva to Sampdoria (undisclosed amount)

From a first team standpoint, Chilwell is the only impact player here. The other three amount to getting salary off the books which is important if you like playing the “Chief Financial Officer” DLC for FIFA 2021, but they don’t meaningfully affect the squad.

Loans Out:

Daniel Iverson to OH Leuven (end of season)
George Hirst to Rotherham United (end of season)
Josh Eppiah to OH Leuven (end of season)
Rachid Ghezzal to Besiktas (end of season)
Darnell Johnson to Wigan Athletic (until January)
Josh Knight to Wycombe Wanderers (until January)

Ghezzal is the only first team player to go out on loan, although it’s possible Islam Slimani could join him as the domestic window remains open. The others are meant to get competitive playing time for the academy players. It’s interesting that the two defenders are only on loan until the new year, isn’t it?

Transfers In:

Thanawat Suengchitthawon from AS Nancy (free)
Zach Booth from Real Salt Lake (undisclosed amount)
Timothy Castagne from Atalanta (£21,000,000)
Wesley Fofana from Saint-Etienne (£30,000,000)

Here’s hoping that Suengchitthawon gets called up to the first team because that’s going to be one hell of a replica kit, isn’t it? Booth is a fine prospect, but he’s not expected to provide any help this year. The keys here are Castagne and Fofana, two young players who will be expected to play a big part this year.

Loans In:

Cengiz Ünder from Roma

This deal may be a loan in name only, as Leicester have an option to buy at the end of it.

So, with all of that movement, it’s essentially one out and three in for the first team squad and a net cost of £1,000,000. The Foxes lost their starting left back and brought in a left-footed right winger, a right back/wing back, and a centre-half. Apart from a cameo by Ünder, Castagne is the only one we’ve seen play regularly and he’s looked right at home filling in for the injured Ricardo Pereira.

This brings us to the big question: Was it a successful transfer window for Leicester City?

The correct answer is, of course: “Only time will tell.” While it’s correct, it’s also absolutely no fun. The whole point of football punditry is to draw rash conclusions from insufficient data, so let’s forge ahead as though we can be certain of the outcome!

Shrewsbury Town v Liverpool FC - FA Cup Fourth Round
We really don’t know any more than these guys. I’m not certain we know any less, either.
Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

The Good:

Taken at by itself, the exchange Ben Chilwell for Timothy Castagne and £30,000,000 is an amazing bit of business. Castagne has been with us for four matches and has popped up with a goal, an assist, a couple of Man-of-the-Match performances and some appearances in the Team of the Week. He’s already comfortable as a wing back when we switch to three at the back.

Manchester City v Leicester City - Premier League
If Vardy’s happy, I’m happy.
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

When the window opened, centre-half and right wing were two positions that were identified by essentially everyone as glaring needs for the Foxes. Enter Ünder and Fofana. We got a speedy winger with a deadly left foot who can beat defenders, and a defender who is imperious in the air but comfortable with the ball at his feet. They tick all the boxes, now it just remains to be seen whether or not they live up to the advance word.

My Italian is a little rusty, but I presume Riccardo is wishing Fofana all the best for joining the Foxes.

So, we lost one quality young player but got three quality young players and addressed some pressing needs. We did this without any up-front impact to the balance sheet, which is especially important in these strange, plague-ridden times. So far, so good!

The Concerns:

There remain three positions where depth is a concern, one of which feels critical. Let’s do them in inverse order of importance.

Central midfield depth:

You saw the West Ham match, right? If so, my condolences. The thing that stood out to these eyes is the lack of a cutting edge in central midfield. That’s no big surprise when James Maddison, Dennis Praet, and Wilfred Ndidi are all out with injuries. But, that doesn’t change that fact that, when we do have several injuries, we’re pretty toothless against a packed defense. Early in the window, the papers had us linked to several midfielders, a position which seemed pretty far down the priority list. Now? It would be nice to have another creative type on the bench, wouldn’t it?

Backup striker:

A larger concern is the club’s dependence on the immortality of one Jamie Vardy. He is the alpha and the omega of the Leicester attack and should he miss an extended amount of time, it would be...bad.

“Define ‘bad’”, you say because who isn’t a Ghostbuster’s fan? I really like Kelechi Iheanacho, so I take no joy in saying this, but he has only scored 1 goal every 307 minutes for Leicester. That’s closer to Ade Akinbiyi (1/395) and Andrej Kramaric (1/300) than it is to Islam Slimani (1/170), and Slimani didn’t even get a shirt number.

The fact that he’s closer to Ade Akin-bad-buy than Slimani should be a cause for worry. The silver lining is that we gave up too soon on the guy whose return most closely matches Kelechi’s. Maybe there’s an uptick in production in the cards for the Nigeria striker?

Left back:

This is the one which concerns me the most. With Chilwell’s departure, the only recognized left backs we have in our squad are an ageing Christian Fuchs and Luke Thomas. The fact that right back James Justin has started every league match on the left suggests that the club feel Thomas isn’t quite ready for the job.

Many people presumed that it would be Castagne since he played on the left sometimes at Atalanta. The fact that Justin is deployed on the left at this time suggests otherwise, and that’s probably for the best.

Stats from No clever caption this time; just sincere thanks.

The numbers on were similar before the current year rolled over. He’s a top-class right back who can play on the left but you probably don’t want him there full-time.

So, if I had to guess, I’d say Justin is Plan A for the time being with Thomas and Castagne as depth. That’s good enough to get by, but it would be a stretch to call the position a strength and that’s a little disappointing when players like Sergio Reguilon were available.

Initial Grade: B+

Leicester did extremely well getting a big fee for a player who clearly wanted to leave and they bought quality at three positions, two of which were glaring needs. They did all this without breaking the bank, so well done on that front.

But, I have to ding them a little for not spending a little extra with the Europa League beckoning and at least one clear need that was apparently left unaddressed. My sense is that the plan is to try to get to the January window and then re-assess their European ambitions and the state of the squad. That’s prudent, but I can’t give them any credit for it at this time.

So that’s my take. How would you grade the Leicester City summer transfer window? Let us know, and let us know why you gave that grade in the comments.


What grade to Leicester City deserve for this transfer window?

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