How will Leicester City fare against the ‘Big Dogs’ next season?
Posted by John Smith | Published on May 25, 2016
Who would have thought that this time last year we would be seeing Leicester City earn themselves a place in the prestigious Champions League let alone winning their first ever Premier League title? At the end of the day, anything can happen in football, and Leicester City have proven that if you work hard enough and never give up, anything is possible. But as one season departs and a new one arises, Leicester City find themselves in a position with both European and English football to play for.
Due to their success domestically, Leicester have been lucky enough to avoid some of the biggest teams in world football including European giants FC Barcelona as well as Bayern Munich once the Champions League group stage draw commences later this year. But despite this, they could still encounter the most successful team in the Champions League: Real Madrid, or, another big team including: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund or even Napoli.
For Leicester fans and players alike, such an introduction to the most prominent club competition in football will definitely add an increasing amount of nerves and tension, in addition to a glimpse of joy considering how far they have come in such a short amount of time.
The opportunity to watch the Foxes play Champions League games at the Bernabeu, Stadio San Paolo or even the Westfalenstadion will prove to be a historic and unforgettable moment for the fans, especially the ones who travelled to Keepmoat Stadium or Huish Park for an afternoon Championship game.
How opposite teams will look and play against Leicester will definitely be one to watch considering the fact that teams such as Real Madrid are used to playing a strong possession based game whilst waiting for the opposition to press on them. However, Leicester will successfully be able to go against this tactic considering how good they can be without possession of the ball – which proved to be a great asset for them in the league last season.
Their style of play resulted in them being 18th in the league table when it came to possession average, but, this was able to prove that possession is not everything considering it led the Foxes to their first ever Premier League title with an average of 41.18% possession.
On the contrary, one of the biggest obstacles that stands in the way of Leicester and having a successful European campaign is their severely inexperienced squad. Despite being the Premier League champions, there is still an extreme level of inexperience in Europe by the Leicester players which could have an impact on how they play against other teams – last years summer signing Gökhan Inler is the only player in the side to have European experience.
Subsequently, the Summer Transfer Window could also make matters for the Foxes considering the large increase in interest from clubs for their players. Juventus have announced their interest in N’Golo Kanté, Liverpool have sparked interest in his partner in midfield Danny Drinkwater as well as Arsenal monitoring the situation of PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez.
Alternatively, the window should also bring positivity to the Foxes considering they now have sufficient funds to compete with other teams and sign players to help towards their European dream. There are a variety of players on the current market who the Foxes could sign to help their first ever adventure in the Champions. Listed below are different players who the Foxes could sign this summer.
Just under five months ago, Leicester sparked their interest in 23 year old Ahmed Musa; a deal looked on the table until the Foxes pulled out of the deal on the last day of the transfer window in January. However, a deal could be back on the table come the summer as Ranieri will want to add experience to his current side with Musa earning 24 appearances in Europe. Musa is known for his bursts of energy and his high amount of pace, his speed compliments how he keeps control of the ball.
Although just losing out on the Primeira Liga to Benfica, Sporting Lisbon striker Islam Slimani enjoyed a successful league campaign with 27 goals in 33 appearances – the second highest in the league last season. Leicester could snap up the striker by paying out his €30 (£22.9) million release clause. Slimani would be a great threat for the Foxes, and, Slimani could also be used to form a partnership with current Leicester player Jamie Vardy.
Since moving to Arsenal two years ago, Calum Chambers has found it difficult to break into the Arsenal side as of yet. However, a loan deal between Arsenal and Leicester could be agreed between the two clubs. The England international originally played as a right back for former club Southampton, but, has also been played as a defender and defensive midfielder for Arsenal. A loan deal for the versatile defender could be a good deal for both clubs.
One final transfer that could happen would be bringing Chinese full back Linpeng Zhang to the Champions. Although many are unaware of Zhang’s talent, media outlets have revealed that a deal could happen between the two clubs in the region of around £10m, his great amount of energy could be beneficial to Leicester next season if the deal happens.
With these new signings along with the current Leicester team, the Foxes could line up like this come the new Premier League season and also used the team in their European games.
With the added new experience to their squad as well as keeping those who had very good league campaign, the two together could allow Leicester to have some success in their first ever European run. How different teams will look to counter Leicester’s current tactics will be an interesting one to watch. But, if Ranieri is able to add the right people to his current squad, they will be in a good position to both put up a great fight in Europe as well as look to defend their title.