Maybe it’s just the overly positive fan in me, but when I look at this Leicester City first team i think “yeah, that’ll do”.
Even for the big ambitions this club has, to push for Champions League qualification while winning trophies, to aim for the Europa League final rather than 2nd round, the quality of our first choice XI is comfortably enough.
Instead, what they really need is to round out the rest of the 25 man squad with enough quality that they can keep going into May next year. If that doesn’t sound exciting, remember that Justin, Castagne, Fofona and Soyuncu were all once depth signings.
With that in mind, here are the areas that I can see are particularly in need of some additions.
Big Wes is gone, it doesn’t look like Benkovic will ever make it, and Rodgers doesn’t trust Amartey anymore. That leaves us with just 3.
As we saw at the end of the season when Evans went down, the missing piece to this defensive unit is another experienced defender, so it does make a lot of sense that we’re being linked (again) with Burnley’s James Tarkowski.
If someone wants to write a cheque for an immeasurable amount then that might be different, but at the moment he’s a Burnley player and he’s done very well again for us this season - manager Sean Dyche has other thoughts on Tarkowski
That would be a lot more money than I think the club really has to spend on a back-up CB, but with the attention Fofana is accruing, this might be a move a little like the Soyuncu signing, replacing Maguire a year before he left.
Just like last summer, The Foxes will start the season with a first choice fullback sidelined through injury. They have a promising young player ready to step in, but probably can’t rely on him alone.
Yes, Castagne and Ricardo can play there, but I’d rather they didn’t.
The free signing of Ryan Bertrand that’s been floated about is not at all exciting, but it makes so much sense. He can fill in when needed, but doesn’t block JJ or Thomas’ development.
Wilf and Youri are the perfect compliment, and when they play as a 3, James Maddison slots in perfectly. If an extra attacking midfield is needed, we have Dennis Praet. For any other role, Hamza and Mendy are not Champions League quality.
Enter Boubakary Soumaré, a key cog in Lille’s unlikely run to Ligue 1 champions. Generally deployed as a deeper midfielder, he is a competent ball winner, as good passer, and excels at moving the ball up the pitch.
Leicester will sign Boubacary Soumaré from Lille and the UCL qualification failed won’t be a problem - the deal is already done and completed since April. €23m to Lille, contract until June 2026 to Soumaré. #LCFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 26, 2021
Here we go confirmed, just official announcement pending. ⏳ https://t.co/Ld5rsIveMB
I think he would struggle to fully replace WIlf in the 4-1-4-1, but so would anyone but Kanté. He’s the perfect cover for either CM position in our back 3 formation, however, and provides much needed relief for Youri, who played over 50 games this year.
I mentioned pre-emptive replacements at CB and, while we never want to think about it, Tielemans transfer stories are now here to stay.
At 21 years old, he also has plenty of room to develop, and fits the current transfer model at a very reasonable price.
If there’s one position that needs a starter, it’s the RW when we play with 4 at the back. I guess that depends on how much faith you have in Ricardo Pereira.
I have full confidence that once he regains some proper match fitness he can fill that role, and will look good combining with RB Timothy Castagne.
Leicester City right wing back @ricbpereira ends the #PL season with the second highest @WhoScored overall average rating:— The LCFC Stat Man (@TheLCFCStatMan) July 28, 2020
de Bruyne - 7.97/10
RICARDO - 7.50/10
Traore - 7.49/10#lcfc pic.twitter.com/BT4S6pnXfC
After him, though, I see no natural RWs in the squad. Perez is much better centrally and Marc Albrighton, while always a fantastic contributor, is not that kind of attacking option.
With all of those right footers, it would be nice to bring in a direct, left footed player to cut in towards goal, Mahrez style.
Links to possible signings here have been much less concrete than at other positions. The most persistent has been Manchester United’s Dan James. He’s a right footer and doesn’t bring the proven quality that you’d like to see, but with that pace it would be fun to watch him Vardy and Barnes on the break together.
A few months back, we needed another striker because we had no competent 2nd choice. Now it’s because the 2nd choice is playing so well we had to switch to a 2 up front. Funny old game.
Either way, the Foxes really need to add another goal scoring threat to the squad. Again, there’s already been a rumour that won’t go away, this time Celtic’s Odsonne Eduoard.
The young frenchman is a natural goal scorer, and bags plenty in Scotland, but is often more of an outside the box striker. In that way, his game reminds me much more of Iheanacho than Vardy.
17 - After his strike against Iceland yesterday, Odsonne Édouard has now scored 17 goals with French U21 team, at least two more than any other player in their history, in only 13 caps. Unstoppable. #U21EURO @CelticFC pic.twitter.com/s1XwY6PsoY— OptaJean (@OptaJean) April 1, 2021
When he does look like the englishman, it’s running into the left channel, creating chances for others, as Vardy often did when playing next to Iheanacho.
To me, this would be a signing that suggests that the two striker system is sticking around for next year, and perhaps also that a true “Vardy replacement” is never coming (and maybe never possible).