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From being the champions of England a year ago, to a side surviving relegation due to some last minute heroics, Leicester City have gone through a swift fall from grace.
The Foxes were crowned the Premier League winners back in 2015-16 as Claudio Ranieri, combined with the squad, produced one of the greatest ever surprises in the history of football. But having reached the peak of English football, Leicester slipped so badly last season, that at one point of time, relegation to the second-tier looked highly probable.
Caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare managed to turn things around in the last quarter of the season and managed to lead them to a 12th placed finish. But with the new season beckoning, things need to improve at the King Power Stadium.
They have managed to do that, by kicking off the summer in an impressive manner. The capture of highly sought-after defender Harry Maguire from Hull City, was a major statement from the club. Last season, the Foxes’ defence – their biggest asset in the title winning campaign – was a liability. The ageing duo of captain Wes Morgan and Robert Huth struggled to get going in the initial phases of the season, which was one of the main reasons why they found themselves on the backfoot.
Having signed Maguire, Leicester have got their hands on one of the most promising English centre-backs in the Premier League. The 23-year old was Hull City’s only positive from a poor season that ended in relegation and showed that he has a bright future ahead of him. He will inject freshness into the Foxes’ backline.
Leicester then followed it up with another statement signing – former Sevilla captain Vicente Iborra arrived for a £12million fee. The 29-year old arrives with great experience in La Liga and also in Europe. He will also bring in with him ‘the winning mentality’, having been a part of the Sevilla squad that went on to win three consecutive UEFA Europa League trophies between 2013 and 2016. Moreover, he was the captain of the team during those triumphs and his leadership qualities are sure to take Leicester a level higher.
Iborra is the kind of the player who may not set the stage ablaze, but gets things done in the middle of the park. He will add steel and mettle to the Leicester midfield and should prove to be the ideal foil for someone like Danny Drinkwater. Iborra, with his proven pedigree and the winning mindset, combined with the years of top level experience, could very well turn out to be a bargain at £12million.
The Foxes are now chasing Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho and are also confident of getting the deal done. The 20-year old Nigerian is one of the finest prospects to have come out of the Citizens’ academy in recent years, but finds himself looking for an exit, in order to get regular playing time. Iheanacho possesses one of the best strike-rates in the Premier League, scoring a goal every 106.5 minutes.
Since his breakthrough season in 2015-16 season, the youngster has scored 12 goals and 5 assists in the 46 top-flight games (1278 minutes), which means he is involved directly in a goal every 75.2 minutes – those are impressive numbers for a young player who wasn’t given a lot of chances over the last eight months.
Iheanacho has the pace, the power and the intelligence required of a forward to make the grade in the Premier League. Given a regular run in the side, he will get you goals consistently. With Leicester often relying on Jamie Vardy to produce the goods at the top, signing the Nigerian international will provide them with added ammunition in their attack and will make them a better unit without a doubt.
Having already brought in two quality players in Maguire and Iborra, if the Foxes manage to add Iheanacho also to their ranks, Shakespeare will have a strong squad at his disposal that can certainly stake a claim for the European spots come next season.