Leicester City have completed the signings of defender Conor Coady from Wolverhampton Wanderers and Harry Winks from Tottenham Hotspur. In doing so, the Foxes have added two players who have appeared 10 times apiece for England and have spent almost half of the £40 million we received for James Maddison. You probably already knew this as we’re not exactly in the business of breaking news here at Fosse Posse. What we can do is offer a little insight into how they’ll fit in and what they have to offer.
Content warning: We can either be unfailingly positive or honest, not both. We woke up and chose violence.
Let’s start with the former Spurs man who spent last season on loan at Sampdoria. An ankle injury limited him to 20 matches (19 starts) for the Genoese side. Despite the injury, the 1719 minutes he played represent the second-highest total of his career as he fell out of favour with Spurs after Mauricio Pochettino left the club.
Part of the problem is that he’s a defensive midfielder in name, but perhaps in name only. He’s very active on defence but he doesn’t tackle at all. When your two biggest weaknesses are “tackling” and “aerial duels,” you’re not really suited to being a lone DMC.
However, he’s become quite good when moving the ball forward with long passes. His assist total last year was low (zero, which is about as low as you can get), but that was due to poor finishing more than his passing skills.
In other words, Winks looks very much like a player who could thrive in Youri Tielemans’ role as a deep midfielder who contribute can contribute to the defence when playing alongside a proper destroyer and excels at getting attacks started.
Conclusion: £10 million seems like a lot to spend on a player who has never had a truly “good” season. There’s room for hope as he does some very useful things well, but he hasn’t put it all together. At 27 years old, he should be at the absolute peak of his game right now so expectations should be tempered appropriately. The upside here is that he’s a useful player at this level who helps us get back to the top flight at the first time of asking.
Oh boy. Let’s just start with a quiz. Here are the statistical profiles of Wout Faes, Harry Souttar, the departed Daniel Amartey, and Conor Coady:
Take a moment to guess which profile goes with which player.
The correct order is Coady, Faes, Souttar, and Amartey.
There’s no sugar-coating this: Conor Coady was absolutely diabolical last season. One of the first things Sean Dyche did when he took the reins was to drop Coady in favour of Michael Keane*. He was bang average when it came to making short passes and hoofing the ball out of defence and struggled mightily with everything else.
Coincidentally, he shares weaknesses with Winks: Tackling and aerial duels. Those two concerns are rather more pronounced when you’re talking about a central defender. Of greater concern is the fact that this is really who he’s been since Nuno Espírito Santo left Wolves.
Therein lies one of the two silver linings we’ve been able to identify. Santo preferred to play three at the back and that works very much in Coady’s favour. He needs to be flanked by quicker, more athletic defenders to be effective. Should Enzo Maresca decide to play in this shape, there’s hope that Coady’s shortcomings won’t be exposed the way they were at Everton.
The other point on the good side of the ledger is that Coady has been excellent when playing for England. That’s difficult to square with his form in the league, but it’s undeniably true. He clearly has the ability to play at a very high level, he just hasn’t shown it at the club level since Wolves were in the Championship.
Conclusion: If you squint enough, you can see some rationale for the Winks signing. That’s a much more difficult ask when it comes to Coady. £8.5 million is quite a haul for a player who was wholly out of his depth last season and, at 30 years old, unlikely to improve. We would very much like to be surprised by his resurgence at the King Power, but we’re not holding our collective breath.
* In case any of you smart types want to frame this as “Leicester City were relegated in part because Conor Coady was dropped,” forget it. Everton averaged more points per match with Coady starting than Keane.
The club clearly emphasized building a foundation of veteran leaders to start the rebuilding of the squad. By all accounts, both Winks and especially Coady fit this bill. Your view of these additions likely comes down to how highly you value these intangible traits. Should we win immediate promotion, this summer will be remembered as a successful one and rightfully so.
We like polls around here, so what do you think?
How do these two signings make you feel about the direction of Leicester City Football Club?
This poll is closed
Optimistic! We’ll be back in the top flight next May.
Meh. Not the kind of players I wanted to bring in, but we’ll see.
Bender voice: Doomed! DOOOOOOOOOOOMED!