Now that we’re (just barely) in the close season, it’s time for my annual, absolutely-divorced-from-reality list of players who might fill a need for Leicester City who may not be on your (or anyone’s) radar. My criteria are that the players:
- Play outside of England
- Are 25 years old or younger
- Fill an apparent need for the Foxes
- Might be realistically available, meaning that they don’t play for teams bound for the Champions League and are preferably from sides relegated from the top flight in their country.
This does not mean that I don’t think we should go after Said Benrahma or Gareth Bale*. They’re just not the sort of players I’m looking for when I’m putting this list together.
This year’s list is going to be wildly different from what I’ve put together in the past. My perennial favorite, Hakim Ziyech, is finally leaving the Eridivisie, but for reasons known only to him, he chose Chelsea over Leicester. His loss.
In addition, this year’s squad has fewer obvious needs than we’ve had in the past but at the same time has a greater need for depth. So, I’ve looked for players at every position except for defensive midfielder (“In Ndidi We Trust”) and goalkeeper, as I have no clue how to rate goalkeepers.
With that out of the way, here are the attacking players:
(NOTE: Osimhen went to Napoli for 70m. Transfermarkt is full of hooey)
Position: Striker/right forward/left forward
Club: Lille (France)
Preferred foot: Right
WhoScored.com rating: 7.14
Tranfersmarkt.com valuation: €22.00m
Do the Foxes need a striker? It sure looks like Kelechi Iheanacho no longer has Rodgers’ trust and Jamie Vardy is bound to start aging eventually. While I think Harvey Barnes is the long-term solution, another option would be welcome.
Oshimhen is one of the most highly-rated players on this list in terms of price, but he scored 13 goals for Lille despite being very raw. He’s got great pace and loves to run on to balls over the top (a little too much, as he gets caught offside too often). He’s a work in progress who already produces and is likely to get significantly better.
- Pros: Youth, potential
- Cons: Raw, is he actually any better than his countryman?
The Foxes are looking for more goals from wide men, and the best way to do this, aside from bringing back Riyad Mahrez, is with inverted wingers. Which, come to think of it, is pretty close to bringing Mahrez back into the fold. A tricky, left-footed creator on the right wing who can put defenders on their backsides would be a welcome addition to the club.
Edwards may be the best English player plying his trade outside of England at this time. He is, in fact, a tricky left-footed creator who scored 7 goals for Guimarães last year and added 5 assists. He also completed 3 dribbles and drew 3 fouls per game as well.
On the other hand, his end product was...not spectacular. Add that to the fact that last year was his first good one, and you can reasonably question the sustainability of his success. But, when you watch his highlight reels and see him gliding across the top of the area past defender after defender...he might be the answer.
- Pros: He’s a young, English, left-footed right winger. That ticks a lot of boxes.
- Cons: No history of sustained success. Is he more Ghezzal than Mahrez?
With Madders signing a big contract extension, do Leicester need another creative attacking midfielder? Let me ask you this: Did you see the last 5 matches of the season? Adli is young enough that he could be brought along slowly and be ready to take his place in the starting XI by his 21st birthday.
You may notice his 6.73 rating on WhoScored and wonder why I’m even looking at him. It’s true that I normally only pick players who get a 7.00 or higher, but Adli is an unusual case. He started only 11 matches and came off the bench in 10. It’s hard to earn a decent score in their system when you don’t start, so if you only look at the matches he started? He was brilliant, with 3 goals and 3 assists. He also took the defensive side of his responsibilities very seriously and could be deployed as a deeper playmaker if needed.
- Pros: Very young, looked fantastic in limited playing time
- Cons: Might not be ready to contribute immediately.
Leicester are actually spoilt for choice on the left if Rodgers wants to play inverted wingers. He has Demarai Gray, Harvey Barnes, Marc Albrighton, and, of course, James Maddison at his disposal for that role. But, most of the chatter over the last 36 hours since the season concluded has been imploring the Foxes to add more goal-scoring from the wings.
Rashica scored 8 times and chipped in with 5 assists for Bremen last season, and this was a very poor Bremen side. He’s extremely crafty on the ball, although he isn’t always quite so clever when releasing it. He’s probably too expensive for what he brings, but with Bremen in a relegation playoff, they may be motivated sellers.
- Pros: Held his own in a tough league, does a little of everything
- Cons: Doesn’t do anything spectacularly well
Tabata is essentially “Marcus Edwards but Brazillian and a couple years older”. He fills the the same needs as the English winger, albeit slightly differently. The Portimonense man got 8 assists but only scored once last year. This isn’t to say he didn’t have the opportunities; he just struggled to finish them.
So, he’s a fine dribbler, careful with the ball, good at distributing, a decent defender, but he hasn’t been able to but the ball in the back of the net. There’s some risk here, but the downside looks to be in the Emiliano Buendia-range, and that’s not bad.
- Pros: Does everything but one thing very well.
- Cons: That one thing is scoring, which is what we’re looking for.
That’s it for today. We’ll do the defenders next. So, what do you think? See anyone you think Leicester should take a longer look at? Let us know in the comments.
* Of course we should sign Gareth Bale. Only a cad would suggest otherwise.