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Leicester City Summer Shopping 2022: Central Midfielders

The cupboards are not overflowing

PSV v Leicester City - Conference League Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images

Check out the full series here.

Buckle in my friends; this is a long one. Brendan Rodgers has suggested that we need to buy a couple of midfielders and I can’t argue with that assessment. Youri Tielemans is probably willing to take a step down to move to London and, outside of KDH, Madders, and Wilf, things look pretty thin.

You could do a lot worse than having Soumare, Choudhury, and Mendy in the center of the park, but you probably don’t want to put your European hopes (and continued employment) in their hands. By my reckoning, we’re probably going to be looking for a playmaker and a defensive-minded player, even if they’re not the pure, destructive force of a healthy Ndidi. Your opinion on the subject may not match mine, but that’s what we’ll be looking for here.

The player ratings are the rating from WhoScored.com. This time around, I’m using their rating when the player starts at their primary position. The prices come from Transfermarkt.com. The relationship between the site’s prices and the actual prices isn’t the strongest, but we have to start somewhere.

Players Linked to Leicester City

Joao Palhinha
Age: 26
Foot: Right
Club: Sporting Lisbon
WhoScored Rating: 7.13
Transfermarkt Price: $28.6m

Sporting CP v CD Santa Clara - Liga Portugal Bwin
Cuidado, João! Eu não falo português, só estou curioso se alguém traduz essas coisas!
Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Palhinha has all of the traits of an elite defensive midfielder. He’s a big, strong fellow who can take the ball away in any number of ways (“any” number, in this case, is “3”: Aerial duels, tackling, and interceptions. In spite of this, he normally plays further up the pitch than a classic DMC, where he was able to chip in with 5 goals last season. There are really no flaws unless you consider the likely asking price, which could be steep as he has no shortage of suitors such as Wolves and Bayer.

Houssem Aouar
Age: 23
Foot: Right
Club: Lyon
WhoScored Rating: 7.23
Transfermarkt Price: $33m

RC Strasbourg v Olympique Lyonnais - Ligue 1 Uber Eats
I’ve never seen them use the magic spray on the eyes before. Seems...unwise?
Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

I’ve heard Aouar described as a “true #8” but I can’t see it. He’s a versatile midfielder who is at his best when deployed centrally and he is an excellent dribbler and passer. He’s not, however, particularly adept at the defensive side of the game. I’m not saying he can’t be Tielemans, but he more closely resembles Maddison in terms of strengths and weaknesses. If we’re after an attack-first midfielder, he could be our man.

Han-Noah Massengo
Age: 20
Foot: Right
Club: Bristol City
WhoScored Rating: 6.55
Transfermarkt Price: $4.4m

Derby County v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship - Pride Park
Unrelated to Massengo, anyone else remember when Ravel Morrison was the Next Big Thing?
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Massengo’s rating is a little misleading as it’s for his most-frequently played position (central midfield), which just happens to be where he rated the lowest. He’s a remarkably mature player for a 20-year old and is especially adept at advancing the ball on his own. He’s very much “one for the future” but it could be a pretty special future.

Kristjan Asllani
Age: 25
Foot: Right
Club: Empoli
WhoScored Rating: 6.51
Transfermarkt Price: $3.85m

Empoli FC v US Salernitana - Serie A
The answer to the question of the ages: “Who wears short shorts?”
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

If I’m being honest, I struggle to see Asllani coming to the King Power in spite of the links I’ve seen. He does a more than decent job in a high press and his workrate is excellent. However, based on what I’ve seen and read, it’s hard to see what else he brings to the table. He’s not really a defensive midfielder, he’s not really an attacker, and if there’s something else to him, I can’t see it.

Ibrahim Sangare
Age: 24
Foot: Right
Club: PSV Eindhoven
WhoScored Rating: 7.49
Transfermarkt Price: $17.6m

PSV v Leicester City - Conference League
No jokes here. I just want Sangare to come to Leicester.
Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images

Did you see him play against us? I rest my case.

OK, if you haven’t seen him, allow me to elaborate: Sangare is an imposing defensive midfielder who is among the best in Europe at winning the ball. He is literally the only player I’ve seen who can put up numbers like Ndidi’s. Oh, and he’s slick on the ball and a decent passer too. He even chipped in 5 goals and 3 assists. We really, really want this guy.

Others of Interest

Orkun Kokcu
Age: 21
Foot: Both
Club: Feyenoord
WhoScored Rating: 7.48
Transfermarkt Price: $18.7m

Leicester City U23 v Feyenoord: Premier League International Cup
The unlikely beginnings of a beautiful midfield partnership.
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

Here’s your true #8. Kokcu (I’ll do the diacritics if we sign him) has unreal vision and range of passing. Seriously, he’s off the charts. He plays deep, but he still tallied 7 goals and 10 assists last year. He’s not a great ball-winner, but he’s not a liability either. Kokcu is, and I am not exaggerating, one of the best in the world at starting an attack from a deep position. I struggle to imagine a better fit for Rodgers’ preferred tactics.

Lovro Majer
Age: 24
Foot: Right
Club: Rennes
WhoScored Rating: 7.37
Transfermarkt Price: $19.8m

Leicester City v Stade Rennes: Round of 16 Leg One - UEFA Europa Conference League
Is KDH in every one of these pictures? I know he covers a lot of ground, but this is getting silly.
Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Majer is definitely an attack-first guy, but he’s got a wand of a foot. He scored 10 and tallied 8 assists last year and that was in fewer than 2,000 minutes in all competitions. The goals were great, but clever passing is his calling card and why I’m interested. Majer is exactly the kind of midfielder to break down packed defenses.

Teun Koopmeiners
Age: 24
Foot: Left
Club: Atalanta
WhoScored Rating: 6.97
Transfermarkt Price: $27.5m

AZ Alkmaar v Vitesse Arnhem - UEFA Conference League Play Off Leg 2nd Leg
“So, yeah, I saw that Harry Maguire meme and thought I might get a little mileage out of this.”
Photo by Raymond Smit/NESImages/vi/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

I lean heavily on numbers when I’m looking at potential targets, but in the case of Koopmeiners, you simply cannot ignore what people say about him. This gentleman is a born leader and an imperious presence on the pitch. On the pitch, he’s one of the most complete midfielders around, capable of changing games at either end of the pitch. My biggest concern in purchasing him is that he would be off to a bigger club in a year or two.

James Garner
Age: 21
Foot: Right
Club: Manchester United
WhoScored Rating: 7.14
Transfermarkt Price: $7.7m

Y’all knew I was going to do this, right?

The floppy-haired midfielder spent last year on loan at Forest, but don’t hold that against him (unless he goes back, obviously). For such a young player, he has an incredibly broad range of skills. He played as an attacking midfielder, a defensive midfielder, and a traditional box-to-box guy. and he was equally effective in all roles. He score 4 times and added 8 assists, but he was among the club leaders in tackles and interceptions. I have no clue what he’ll be in his prime, but whatever it is, it’ll be good.

Lewis O’Brien
Age: 23
Foot: Left
Club: Huddersfield Town
WhoScored Rating: 7.15
Transfermarkt Price: $3.85m

Huddersfield Town v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final
Single-handedly trying to stop Forest, which is worth a lot in my book.
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

This is a bit of sentimental pick as he was the driving force behind Huddersfield’s campaign to keep Forest in the Championship.

O’Brien was the pitbull in the Terriers’ engine room. Seeing him play, you can see why his dribbling statistics are so good: He’s low to the ground, has terrific balance, and you just can’t take the ball off of him. He’s also a robust tackler and tireless runner. He’s probably not quite what Leicester are looking for, but there’s more than a little bit of Dewsbury-Hall to him and you just can’t have too many players like that.


Well, this is awkward. We’re apparently in the market for two midfielders and this site’s polls will only allow a single selection.

Poll

Who would be your primary target in central midfield?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Joao Palhinha
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Houssem Aouar
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Han-Noah Massengo
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Kristjan Asllani
    (0 votes)
  • 63%
    Ibrahim Sangare
    (28 votes)
  • 13%
    Orkun Kokcu
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    Lovro Majer
    (1 vote)
  • 9%
    Teun Koopmeiners
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    James Garner
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Lewis O’Brien
    (0 votes)
44 votes total Vote Now