Connect in the back of the net

After their miraculous Premier League triumph, Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri faces something of a dilemma this summer as he gears up for the club’s title defence and debut Champions League campaign.

He has to decide whether to totally keep faith with the players who delivered the Premier League title or whether to use this window of opportunity to sign a host of players who the club ordinarily would struggle to attract.

His first signing looks like being Hannover goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler, whose imminent departure for the King Power Stadium has been confirmed by his club. It’s an intriguing, some might say odd signing given the form of Kasper Schmeichel this season and one that might offer some indication as to Ranieri’s future business over the next few months.

Zieler is of a high enough standing in the game that he almost certainly wouldn’t move somewhere on the premise of being merely a back-up goalkeeper. He has excelled in the Bundesliga over the past five seasons for Hannover, in which he has been a figure of consistency and hasn’t missed a single minute of league football.

 

A top performer

He was one of the club’s top performers in an otherwise miserable season this term as Hannover suffered relegation from the top flight and although his departure was almost inevitable, the likely destination is a curious one.

To put Zieler’s qualities in perspective, he was back-up to Manuel Neuer in Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning squad and earned his sixth cap for the national team this season in a friendly against the Netherlands.

He could have easily joined another Bundesliga club or a host of other Premier League clubs and been first choice goalkeeper, so we can only assume that he is being given some assurances that he will be doing more that sitting on the bench in the East Midlands.

It would be extremely tough on Schmeichel if he was to immediately lose his place to Zieler, given the Dane barely put a foot wrong this season, but he is not without his weaknesses and will now at the very least be faced with stiff competition for the Foxes number one jersey.

 

Cup competitions

One possibility might be that Zieler has been guaranteed by Ranieri to be the club’s goalkeeper in the cup competitions, allowing Schmeichel to keep his place, initially at least, in the Premier League. That would allow Zieler to test himself in the Champions League, where he is yet to feature.

It would allow him the opportunity to showcase his talents at the highest level and potentially win back his place in the German squad, whilst highlighting his potential to be Leicester’s number one goalkeeper in all competitions in the long-run.

 

An indication of ambition

His arrival would certainly be a blow to Schmeichel but might be an indication that deep down the mild-mannered, humble Ranieri is in no mood to let this campaign be a one-off.

He could easily have opted to sign a younger goalkeeper, who would be content to play second fiddle to the Dane for a few seasons at least, but he hasn’t done that and looks set to add several players who will provide provide fierce competition for his title winning troops.

 

Written by Mark Sochon

Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol

Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!

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