There are few things I look forward to with more joy than assembling shopping lists for Leicester City during transfer windows. Putting together a list of names based on hours of watching films, making spreadsheets of numbers compiled from a half-dozen sites, and picking a list of potential candidates for the Fosse Posse is something that fills me with joy. Thus, when it comes to coming up with suggestions for the January transfer window this year, I am deeply disappointed to admit that I’m as in the dark as you are.
Instead, I’m going to briefly (you’re welcome) go over why it’s so difficult to produce names this time around which I’m certain will be every bit as riveting as it sounds.
- There’s No Money To Spend
This is reason enough not to waste a lot of time scouting other leagues. The board has let Enzo Maresca know that no funds are currently available for transfer and there will be no funds unless we sell first. There don’t seem to be any players on the way out the exit door, so...shrug.
For my American friends accustomed to salary caps, I’d like to point out that Financial Fair Play (FFP) is a completely different proposition. Salary caps are a limit to how much every team can spend on player salaries. FFP limits how much a club can spend based on the club’s financial balance sheet. The better your balance sheet, the more you can spend. If this seems like a way to perpetuate the status of the “big” clubs, no wonder. That’s exactly what it is.
When City were relegated, we took a massive hit to the club’s overall finances. That hit is somewhat mitigated by a “parachute payment,” but no enough to allow us to splash the cash this January. Unless we manage to sell a player or two, don’t expect any big signings.
2. I Am Blinded by Marescaball
Under every other manager we’ve employed, finding players to recommend has been fairly straightforward. We’re weak on the right flank? Let’s find an inverted winger who puts up good numbers in a second-tier league. Most of our managers have used most of our players in a fairly conventional fashion, a fact which simplifies scouting tremendously.
That’s now how Maresca does things. He brought in players who he felt could play his system regardless of their statistics. He does things like play Harry Winks as a defensive midfielder even though he doesn’t do a lot of defending. He plays Wilfred Ndidi as an attacking midfielder even though he’s Wilfred Ndidi. He frequently asks the striker to come back and be the outlet for the keeper.
And here’s the thing: It works! Maresca’s system is looking awfully strong at this stage. What’s interesting is that the success seems to be down to how well the players “get” the system as opposed to individual skill. Ndidi’s the perfect example here. Watch the runs he makes. He may not always look graceful, and the movement may come across as mechanical, but he’s doing exactly what Maresca wants him to do and it’s working really well.
He’s also our reigning drip king, but I’m not sure that ticks one of Enzo’s boxes.
This puts me in a difficult spot: My tried-and-true (huge sarcasm quotes) methods for finding the right fit for Leicester City simply don’t work anymore. I can look for a number 8 who makes intelligent runs, crosses well, presses like a demon, and is disciplined in his movement and I might find a fit. But, the things Maresca wants don’t always leave a strong statistical trail and even if they did “willing to listen to the gaffer” isn’t going to show up in the numbers or on video.
3. Unless We Uncover The Next Riyad Mahrez, Do We Need Reinforcements?
You may or may not be aware of this, but Leicester City are top of the table in the Championship right now. We’ve been there all year. There doesn’t seem to be any particular reason to believe we won’t be there at the end of the year even without adding any new players.
We’ve lost Cesare Casadei and that hurts. But, we’re about to add Stefano Sensi to replace him. We’re getting Vardy, Ndidi, Daka, and Souttar back in the next week or two. Dennis Praet seems to be approaching full health, and Conor Doyle is back after a long-term absence. The squad has survived January largely intact.
The only position I see as a cause for concern is the Ricardo role. We have three fullbacks in the squad: Ricardo, James Justin, and Doyle. Hamza Choudhury can fill the role in a pinch, but Hamza has created a problem for himself and it remains to be seen how the club and law enforcement will react. Another fullback/midfield type would be helpful if only to ensure that Wout Faes doesn’t have to play left-back again.
Understand Leicester City are now closing in on Stefano Sensi deal.— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 25, 2024
There’s green light to proceed in final stages of negotiations with Inter for fee close to €2m.
It’s just about final details then the deal can be completed. pic.twitter.com/8TE2rhdLvv
Fab has been posting this same tweet for a month now. Not sure what Rob is doing (and if you get that reference, my condolences).
So, who should Leicester City buy? Like I said at the start, I have no clue. In Enzo we trust. That’s my take-what about you?
What role do YOU think we should be focussing on?
This poll is closed
The sweeper defender who is also, coincidentally, a goalkeeper.
The defensive midfielder who doesn’t defend but passes like a 10.
An inverted right winger because that’s what we ALWAYS need.
A striker who spends half the match in their own half.