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Coming into this summer transfer window, Leicester City were under some amount of pressure, after a faltering campaign last time around. Having finished as champions of England a season ago, the Foxes endured a difficult season last time out and mounted a late recovery to finish 12th in the league.
Craig Shakespeare was appointed as the permanent manager after the good work he did as a caretaker in the second part of last season and he has been backed by the ownership in the transfer market. The club have done some really smart business in the window and let’s take a look at how they have fared overall in the summer.
The biggest exit of the summer from the King Power stadium was that of midfield mainstay Danny Drinkwater, who was signed by champions Chelsea on the transfer deadline day for a fee of £35million.
Another promising former Manchester United academy man, Tom Lawrence moved to Championship side Derby County, while goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler returned to Germany, with Stuttgart signing him just a year after he had joined Leicester. Michael Cain and Marcin Wasilewski were released after their contracts expired, while talented attacking midfielder Bartosz Kapustka was loaned out to SC Freiburg and Nampalys Mendy was sent away temporarily to OGC Nice.
In terms of incoming players, Leicester got most of their business done early in the summer, strengthening their centre-back department with the addition of Harry Maguire from Hull City for £17million and Sam Hughes from Chester FC. Goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic was also brought in from Hull, before former Sevilla captain Vicente Iborra arrived for a bargain £12million fee.
The signing that was met with most excitement, however, was that of young and talented striker Kelechi Iheanacho, who joined the Foxes from Manchester City for a fee of £25million. And a deadline day addition was made in the form of centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic, who has been signed on loan from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen.
The biggest positive from the transfer window for Leicester City will be the fact that they were able to hold on to wing wizard, Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian attacker, coming into the new season, had made it clear that he wanted a move away from the club before the window closed. Italian Serie A side AS Roma had a couple of bids rejected, there was interest from Arsenal and Barcelona, but nothing materialised before the transfer deadline.
It is very much likely that Mahrez could leave in the next transfer window, but the attitude that he has shown so far, despite wanting to leave, and the level of performances that have been seen from the Algerian means the Foxes will reap the benefits of his prodigious talent for at least a few more months.
Demarai Gray was another who was pursued heavily by a number of clubs in the Premier League, but retaining the promising England youth international should come as a boost for the club.
Selling Drinkwater will have come as a bit of a blow for the fans, given that he had established himself as a key cog in the midfield. However, the fee that they were able to recoup, coupled with the fact that Matty James is doing a sterling job in the position, almost two years after he picked up that horrific injury, should ease the blow to a great extent.
Add to that, the signing of Vicente Iborra, a player who led Sevilla to three consecutive UEFA Europa League titles, a seasoned pro who will be able to render strong backup to the Foxes. Then there is the supposed arrival of Portuguese midfield metronome Adrien Silva from Sporting Lisbon, subject to international clearance from FIFA. The 28-year old will be another solid addition to the Foxes’ midfield, given the energy and the experience he will be able to bring.
Harry Maguire has already started to prove his worth to the club with some very highly impressive performances early into the season. Strong, tall, good with the ball at his feet and a very good passer, the 23-year old is a complete modern centre-back in the making and if he manages to keep up this level of performance, the Englishman will prove to be a great bargain.
To add more cover to the backline, Aleksandar Dragovic was also signed on the deadline day. The 26-year old has been performing at the top level for a number of years now, has the know-how of the game and is a consistent performer. The central defence area looks quite sturdy with Dragovic, Maguire, Wes Morgan and Robert Huth.
Kelechi Iheanacho hasn’t been majorly involved as of yet, due to some niggling injury concerns, but every Premier League fan will know what the Nigerian international is capable of. He is young, dynamic and has displayed the clinical edge in front of goal early into his career. His partnership up top with Jamie Vardy could prove to be quite a force for Leicester.
One area where they might have looked to get a reinforcement would be the right-back slot. Danny Simpson is a solid option no doubt, but the only proper backup they have is Daniel Amartey, who by default is a central midfielder. Maguire too can operate there if need be, but having a specialist backup in the position would have been more preferable.
Some very good signings, coupled with the retention of Mahrez and Gray means Leicester have had a very good window. The prospect of losing Mahrez will be a bother, but for now, the fans can take a deep breath and watch the Algerian livewire put in some more scintillating displays.