With the 2021/22 season done and dusted, it’s the silliest time of the year for sports journalists and supporters alike. It’s time to try to figure out who the Foxes will be bringing in for next year’s campaign. If the past twenty-five years have taught me anything, it’s that:
- Most of the rumours linking us to players are nonsense.
- Any one person’s idea of what positions the team is looking to fill, no matter how solid their reasoning, is also nonsense.
- None of the quoted prices for any of the players bear any relationship to reality.
- Even though it’s a fool’s errand to do any of this, it’s a lot of fun and we’re going to do it anyway.
The first job when trying to figure out who might be a target for the club is determining where we have a need. Last year was easy: we needed a striker, a right-wing, a left-back, a central midfielder and, when Fofana’s leg was broken, a centre-half. Lo! And behold: we actually bought players who could be slotted into those positions.
Unfortunately, some of those purchases didn’t work out especially well. Amendola Lookman is not really a right-sided attacker, Ryan Bertrand was hurt most of the year and ineffective at left back, Boubakary Soumare didn’t live up to Rodgers’ expectations, and Jannik Vestergaard wasn’t suited to playing the high line Leicester prefer. Patson Daka had a largely successful first campaign, so at least we can (probably) cross “striker” off the list.
So, where do City need to strengthen the squad next year?
Let’s start with the obvious one: Right-wing.
Ademola Lookman had a successful loan spell at City and it looks likely that the Foxes will be trying to buy him on a permanent basis. The problem? He’s just not very effective on the right (we said as much when we recommended him last year). Only one Leicester player made the most of his starts on the right side of the midfield: Marc Albrighton. We love the GOAT, but here’s hoping we resolve this and this position isn’t at the top of our shopping list next year.
Next up is another one of our usual suspects: Left-back.
I remain optimistic that Luke Thomas will grow into this role, but he’s not yet the finished product and would benefit from regular playing time under less-difficult circumstances. To be honest, this is a role where I suspect what we’d be looking for is a veteran stopgap rather than a prospect. That may sound like “Ryan Bertrand,” but that’s not quite it. Someone who can step in and start the majority of matches and, if not excel, then at least not be an obvious point of weakness.
The position that concerns me the most: Centre-half.
We have Fofana back, which puts us in a better place. Getting Fofana back would be any club in a better place. But, Evans is a year older, Söyüncü seems to be on his way out, the gaffer won’t use Vestergaard, and Amartey is more willing than able. I think we need two centre-halfs; preferably a “veteran leader” type and an up-and-comer.
Yet another familiar need: Central midfield.
The emergence of Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall reduces the urgency here, but that’s offset by the failure of Soumare to win the confidence of the manager. Add in the likely departure of Youri Tielemans, the near-certain departure of Dennis Praet, and the fact that, in spite of playing the best football he’s ever played for us, Nampalys Mendy just isn’t a holding midfielder, and this is another area where two bodies may be needed: A box-to-box guy and a deep playmaker/secondary defensive midfielder.
And finally...the wildcards!
Are we strongly linked to some players that don’t fit any of these roles, or are there some specialised roles where we could use some help even if the position is already filled? What if Kasper leaves? The answers to these and other questions will be revealed in the coming days!
So, that’s what I think we need. What about you? Are these the areas where the Foxes should be looking to improve the club? Let us know in the comments!