Transfer Talk: Foxes need cunning to keep hold of star men

Cian Cheesbrough
LiveScore
James Maddison and Youri Tielemans have been linked with moves away from Leicester
James Maddison and Youri Tielemans have been linked with moves away from Leicester

It has been a quiet summer for Leicester so far — but there could be plenty of change by the time the transfer window slams shut.

Brendan Rodgers has been unable to secure any new arrivals at the King Power Stadium to date following a somewhat underwhelming eighth-placed finish last term.

A host of their current talent are also the subject of interest elsewhere, with the likes of James Maddison, Wesley Fofana and Youri Tielemans linked with the exit door.

Ahead of their Premier League opener with Brentford on Sunday, we look at whether the Foxes should cash in or stick with their in-demand stars.

Lack of incomings

After two consecutive fifth-placed seasons in which Champions League football was a real possibility, a late rally to seal eighth in 2021-22 was slightly disappointing.

Seeing their FA Cup defence come to an abrupt end in the fourth round with a 4-1 defeat to rivals Nottingham Forest was a notable low point of the campaign.

Rodgers admitted their struggles would likely lead to a shake-up of the squad during the off-season, but so far no player has come through the door.

On their lack of activity, the Northern Irishman said: "Clearly, we have to do some business out before we can get players in. We just are not in the same position as some of the other clubs. 

"Until that changes, I keep working with the players we have. We try to maximise their abilities and if the club can do something in the market to help the team, we would want that.

"Of course I want to improve the squad, I want to develop the squad, I said that midway through last year, but if it’s difficult financially, I really respect the club, so I don’t go to war with them."

Leicester struggled for consistency during the 2021-22 Premier League campaign
Leicester struggled for consistency during the 2021-22 Premier League campaign

Injury-hit campaign

But it is also worth noting the raft of injuries Rodgers had to deal with last season when analysing where they are as a team.

Influential stars such as Fofana, Jonny Evans and Jamie Vardy were unavailable for large parts of the campaign and with others spending time on the sidelines, the East Midlands outfit were plagued with inconsistency.

Encouraging 5-1 and 4-1 wins over Watford and Southampton in the final month of the season was a reminder of how good they can be at their best.

If they can keep their key men fit and firing in 2022-23, there is hope they can return to their previous high standards.

Sticking to their guns

That said, transfer rumours regarding a number of their star assets continue to circulate.

Recent murmerings suggest Maddison, 25, has become a target for the likes of Tottenham and Newcastle — the Geordies recently seeing a £40million bid rejected.

Eddie Howe’s men are also said to be eyeing up winger Harvey Barnes, 24, while French defender Fofana, 21, has become the latest target of Chelsea’s centre-back pursuit.

And while Rodgers has opened the door to certain departures, his bullish recent comments suggest many of his best players are not in the shop window.

Asked about Fofana’s future following a 1-0 pre-season win over Sevilla, the Foxes boss said: "Naturally, he will attract the interest of other clubs. 

"Our job, in not signing anyone so far, is to at least keep the players we have. I know that's the intention of the club."

He added on Maddison: "You see his performance, you see how happy he is, and he's not a player we want to sell.

"It's not for me to put valuations on the players, it's not my side, but [£40m] might just cover three-quarters of his left leg, that price. He's a top player."

James Maddison was one of Leicester's top performers last season
James Maddison was one of Leicester's top performers last season

The stars who could move

But in Belgian midfielder Tielemans, 25, the situation may be slightly different.

The maestro's departure has long been mooted after turning down several new contract offers last season amid interest from Manchester United and Arsenal.

With his current deal expiring next summer, now may be the final chance for the Foxes to demand a fee for one of their star performers of recent seasons.

Club captain Kasper Schmeichel, 35, is another who Rodgers could be happy to sell, with a switch to Nice thought to be on the cards.

Rodgers added on the Dane: "There's been a little bit of interest over the summer. 

"Kasper has earned the right to have a think about the next chapter of his career and where that's going to be. 

"When there's something concrete, we'll sit and discuss it and take it from there."

Smart sellers

Of course, Leicester have a history of selling their most valuable players without it affecting their development.

N’Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater, Harry Maguire, Riyad Mahrez and Ben Chilwell have all been offloaded for large fees in recent seasons, with the profit made then reinvested into the squad.

There is no reason why they could not work similar wonders this summer, though time is running out to get business done.

Yet even if one or two do leave, enough high-quality players will remain to be optimistic about challenging the Premier League's elite once again.

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Leicester CityPremier League
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