Claudio Ranieri: Will His Leicester Side Stay Together Or Fall Apart?

Loyalty and football haven’t been further apart than it is in today’s footballing climate. The biggest example being Fabian Delph’s move to Manchester City from Aston Villa last year.

Leicester pulled off nothing short of a miracle, from coming out of a tough relegation battle to an astonishing 10 points.

This could be due to the lack of consistency by the ‘Big 4 or Big 6’ but the Premier League season consist of 38 games, luck can have an influence but it’s down to hard work, team work, talent and consistency.

That’s something this Leicester team had and with other teams splashing the cash on ‘superstars’, it was three fairly unknown players who stole the spotlight.

Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante were the standout players in that Leicester team.

While the Leicester team celebrated their triumph you couldn’t help but wonder how many of these players would be there come September. We all expected the big clubs to come and pounce on Leicester’s star players and once the transfer window opened, first up was Jamie Vardy.

The English striker was identified by Arsenal who are still in desperate need of a new striker but to the surprise of many, Vardy rejected the North London club and signing a new £100,000 a week contract with Leicester.

This was the stance Leicester City’s board were hoping for and it seemed to be a message to the rest of the footballing world that they would not be letting their key performers leave without a fight.

Prior to the Euros, Leicester offered new contracts to the three stars and captain Wes Morgan to not only send a message but so the board knew where the players stood.


Kante departs

With Vardy passing his test, the Leicester City board were optimistic that the others would follow suit.

Well, that’s what Leicester and Vardy presumed. In came a host of clubs for N’Golo Kante who happened to be away with France at the Euros, which meant the rumours flooded in daily.

Real Madrid, Juventus, Arsenal, Chelsea and Chinese club Shanghai SIPG were all linked with Kante and once again, Leicester presented a new contract in a bid to keep the championship team together.

However, unlike Vardy, Kante had his heart set on a move and after negotiations he signed with Chelsea for a reported £32 million fee which for a player of his quality in this day and age is certainly a bargain and Leicester not only receive a club record fee but a huge profit on the £6 million they spent to buy him last summer.

Currently, it seems time for the last of the trio to be tested.

Riyad Mahrez has gained a lot of interest and it has been reported that Manchester City have made a bid of £33 million, but Claudio Ranieri has claimed the winger wants to stay in Leicester and expects him to sign a new contract in the coming weeks.

It’s unclear whether Mahrez will stay in Leicester but with a new contract on the table, the longer he takes to sign it, the more it invited more bids from other clubs.


Is loyalty rewarded?

Well, in terms of Jamie Vardy, the answer is: Yes.

He’s now being paid considerably more compared to last year and the rest of his teammates, plus will be playing Champions league football and if he does move on in the future he will receive another wage increase on the 100k which is likely to be around the sum Arsenal were proposing.

I doubt there was a team meeting to ensure all players were on the same page and none left no matter what, meaning each player’s decisions are those of the individual and if Mahrez does decide to leave he is well within his rights to and even though the decision wasn’t the one he wanted, Ranieri has said he understands Kante’s decision.

If Leicester reinvests in the squad which they already have started doing so, buying no less than four players including Nampalys Mendy who is seen as a Kante replacement and the club forked out a record purchase of Ahmed Musa for £18 million.

The speedy Nigerian striker could form a great partnership with Vardy up front.  

I don’t think Leicester will be installing anymore release clauses in their players’ contracts from now on.


Written by Jonathan Roberts

Follow Jonathan on Twitter @missingstuds

Check out his awesome football blog, Missing Studs Football

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