Leicester City transfer state of play: Top’s stance, four-player deficit, midfield revamp
James Maddison and Harvey Barnes have been sold, and Harry Winks, Conor Coady, Callum Doyle, and Mads Hermansen have arrived, but plenty more business is required
The new Championship season begins in under a fortnight, and while there has been significant transfer activity at Leicester City, there is still so much to be done in their squad overhaul.
For a start, they are still four senior players down on last season. There have been 10 departures, with eight players leaving at the end of their contracts, plus James Maddison and Harvey Barnes sold. That is offset by six arrivals, with four signings made, plus Hamza Choudhury and Marc Albrighton returning from loan spells.
Unless the likes of Wanya Marcal-Madivadua and Kasey McAteer are promoted to the first team on a full-time basis, City would need another four signings in the next fortnight just to start the season with the same squad depth as last term.
Speaking at an event in Thailand last Friday, City chairman Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha did not ignore that fact. He stated that there would be more signings and recognised the revamp required, saying: “Every summer is busy, but this summer we have more to do. We’re always trying to have the best squad.”
Next in is likely to be winger Stephy Mavididi. Reports in France say he will be sold by Montpellier ahead of the final year of his contract with the Ligue 1 club, and that he has agreed a four-year deal at City.
Also on the club’s radar is young Chelsea midfielder Cesare Casadei. The Italian player of the tournament at the Under-20 World Cup in May would provide the goals from midfield that City are now missing following Maddison’s exit.
Those two positions, out wide and in attacking midfield, are priorities for City right now, the two areas where they are shortest on options. Mavididi alone won’t be enough out wide, with Barnes’ exit leaving Albrighton as the only recognised senior winger in the squad.
But it’s not simply a case of City filling the gaps they currently have in the squad, as more will emerge. Further exits are to come, and central midfield has the potential to become a problem area for the club. Of the six options available to manager Enzo Maresca right now, there is only new signing Harry Winks and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall who are certain to stay.
Dennis Praet may have started all of City’s pre-season matches, but he is expected to move on with just a year left on his deal. Hamza Choudhury is of interest to Southampton and has just 12 months remaining on his contract too.
It’s the same situation for Wilfred Ndidi, and City are unlikely to want to lose him for nothing in a year’s time, meaning a decision must be made over his future. Then there’s Boubakary Soumare, whose standing in the squad remains up in the air after a difficult two years since arriving from Lille.
No deals are imminent, with all four among the group of 26 out in Thailand at the moment, and there is no guarantee that all four will leave. But with Papy Mendy, Youri Tielemans and Maddison already out, and with Maresca wanting a three-man midfield, any more players who leave will need to be replaced.
It’s not the only area of the squad where there will be exits. With Mads Hermansen in, at least one of City’s goalkeeping cohort will leave. Defender Jannik Vestergaard is also a contender to go.
At full-back, City are well-stocked, particularly with Callum Doyle able to operate at left-back too, and so a sale there also is expected. Timothy Castagne has made clear he would like to leave and remains the likeliest candidate for a departure, but Ricardo Pereira is now attracting interest too. It would be a blow to Maresca’s plans if the Portuguese were to be sold.
One of City’s three strikers – Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho and Patson Daka – will also need to make way if City are to firm up their interest in Swansea’s Joel Piroe. He is unlikely to come in while there are three other frontmen in the squad, and Iheanacho remains a possible sale given the Nigerian has just a year remaining on his contract.
It is a good job, then, that the transfer window does not close when the season starts. As Top added last week, there is still a “long time” before business ends on September 1, and City will need it if the squad revamp is going to be as thorough as required.