Are Leicester City Ready to Become Permanent Top Four Contenders?

Leicester Rise into Europe

The Premier League has been dubbed the most competitive league in Europe for so long, with an array of talent and a constant battle for the title of champions. The top four has always been debated strongly amongst fans and pundits, particularly with the rise of Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, and most recently, Wolverhampton Wanderers.

However, in 2016, Leicester City accomplished the most shocking achievement football has ever seen, winning the Premier League after only being promoted in two years prior.

Since then, the Foxes have not quite to etched their name in the Premier League’s list of elite, after controversially parting ways with Claudio Ranieri and losing Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante to more competitive clubs.

This season, although, has seen Brenden Rodgers’ side fight for a place in the Champions League next season, being nine points ahead of fifth-place Manchester United with only nine matches remaining.

The question posed for Rodgers and Leicester now is whether they can maintain this form for the coming seasons and become a permanent name among the Premier League’s top four.

With United being very active in the transfer market at the moment and Jose Mourinho having his first summer transfer window in charge of Spurs, the Foxes will face fierce competition to maintain a Champions League spot – perhaps prompting them to invest in transfers of their own to do so.

Here, we look at the potential transfer options for Leicester going forward into the 2020/21 season and whether they can compete regularly in Europe’s most elite competition.

Is Leicester's Defence Ready for Europe?

Despite the sale of their defensive rock, Harry Maguire, the club have managed to keep as many clean sheets as champions City thus far, replacing Maguire with Caglar Soyoncu who has an impressive debut season at the King Power.

This season, Leicester’s defensive performances have been more than impressive, keeping a total of 10 clean sheets this season and conceding more goals than Liverpool and Sheffield United, only.

However, club captain, Wes Morgan, is already out of contention for a starting place and will surely move on soon, whilst first-team regular Johnny Evans is edging towards the latter end of his career, aged 32. Therefore, it seems as if Rodgers could possibly seek a new centre back this summer to keep this European battle going.

Dejan Lovren could be a potential target for the Foxes this summer, after reports from the Liverpool Echo suggest Liverpool are looking to offload the Croatian for the Brazilian centre-back, Diego Carlos.

Lovren and Rodgers have already worked together at Liverpool. The Croat has also featured in the 2018 Champions League and FIFA World Cup finals, and has a winners medal for the 2019 Champions League, making him a more than viable option for Rodgers to consider in the summer, should he become available.

According to Sky Sports reports last season, Leicester were very close to signing Southampton’s Jan Vestergaard, 27, who is valued at around £10 million – a reasonable price in today’s transfer market. The big Dane could be another option for Leicester and Rodgers to reconsider for this season as he would undoubtedly make the switch from 14th place Southampton to third place Leicester, if they were to be interested still.

ICYMI: Read how Sheffield United have exorcised their Carlos Tevez-shaped demons, establishing themselves as a Premier League powerhouse.

How about Leicester's attacking options?

Leicester’s midfield and attacking options going forward have impressed thus far this season, with Jamie Vardy currently leading the way for the award of this season's Golden Boot award, scoring 19 goals until now.

However, perhaps one of the main issues Leicester could struggle with next season is squad depth, especially with the added pressure of extra Champions League fixtures. Rodgers could seek players to bulk his midfield options with, considering the extra fixtures and lack of replacements for the likes of Maddison, who has become a target for Manchester United.

Another Liverpool player that has featured in Sky News to be leaving the Reds this summer, has also been linked to a potential move to the King Power: Adam Lallana

Lallana has featured in reports to be in negotiations with the Foxes for a possible reunion with his former manager. The 31-year-old is out of contract this summer and Sky have reported Brendan Rodgers’ has already initiated talks with the attacking midfield man, making this move very likely.

Leicester have also been mentioned in Sky reports to be in the market for a new winger, with Harvey Barnes being inexperienced in the Premier League still, despite an impressive debut season. Plus, Ayoze Perez is having to play as a makeshift winger, rather than his preferred position as a centre forward.

Go all in for Philippe Coutinho the answer

Phillipe Coutinho - another of Rodgers' former players - has been linked with a shock move to the King Power Stadium, showing Leicester’s intentions to make their name a more common name featuring in the top four.

Since moving to Barcelona in 2018 for a massive £142 million, the Brazilian has found it difficult to settle with the Spanish giants and has been loaned out to Bayern Munich with the option-to-buy at the end of the season.

However, Sky Sports reports of Bayern’s interest in Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, Kai Havertz, which suggests Coutinho’s spell at the Allianz will expire come the end of the season, and with Barcelona hinting at accepting offers for Coutinho, it is likely we will see him at a new club next season.

Coutinho was a crucial element to Rodgers during his time at Liverpool, being utilised as a winger and as a number 10 for the Northern Irishman. This could be the perfect fit for both as Coutinho is looking to rebuild his career, while Rodgers is looking for a talent of the Brazilian's calibre to assist the Foxes in achieving consistent top four aspirations.

Leicester will, however, face a lot of strong competition as Coutinho has also been strongly linked with Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool, according to Sky Sports. Although, seeing as their competition to sign Coutinho are also their primary competition for a place in the top four, Leicester’s signing of the former Liverpool man could have a massive impact on their season coming.

ICYMI: Take a look at who Manchester United need this summer and the latest odds and news on targets like Jadon Sancho and Kalidou Koulibaly.

Aim for the out of favour wingers

Another potential signing Leicester could look at with the same calibre of the of Coutinho, is Manchester City’s out of favour winger Leroy Sane.

Sane played a crucial part in City’s title-winning season of 2018/19 before sustaining an injury that has kept him out for most of the 2019/20 season. During this time, the German may have fallen out of favour at the Etihad.

With Raheem Sterling, Mahrez and Bernado Silva becoming locked in first-team players in Sane’s position, it is possible the German winger could seek first-team football elsewhere. Being valued at around £72 million, a price they will reportedly have to pay for Coutinho (Sky Sports), Leicester could be tempted in beginning negotiations should they miss out on Coutinho to one of their rivals.

Falling out of favour at City, Sane could possibly be willing to make the move to the Foxes considering he would undoubtedly play first-team football under Rodgers, should he stay fit, and with the prospect of Champions League football with Leicester – a luxury he may not have at City.

By Bradley Beecham

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