After the miracle of the 2015/16 season, last season was somewhat back to reality for former champions Leicester City. However, with a full pre-season under their new manager, in his first lead role, Craig Shakespeare, what does this Premier league season have in store for the Foxes?
At the start of the season they looked like the team that everyone presumed they should be, before they defied the odds, scrapping down the bottom of the table. It seemed that the history makers had stopped playing for the manager, Claudio Ranieiri and the club was in disarray. This led to the sacking of the title winning manager and saw assistant manager Craig Shakespeare take over permanently.
This stirred up a lot of bad press around the club, with many saying their season of sloppy and lacklustre performances put them in a deserved relegation fight. Nonetheless Shakespeare turned the Foxes season around getting them to the quarter finals of the Champions League and guiding them up the table, where Leicester finished 12th which looked a big task when Shakespeare took over.
This takes us on to the new up and coming season and the question is, what Leicester are going to turn up and what kind of season are they going to have? No one can truly give an answer to that but there are key variables that could influence what a successful campaign will be for them.
A miracle of another Premeir League title is something very unrealistic however with the signings that they have made and could possibly, a top ten finish is a realistic ambition.
There first summer signing was Harry Maguire from Hull for around £17 million. This is a huge transfer for them as last year they were leaking goals at the back. When Ngolo Kante moved to Chelsea last summer it showed how weak the Foxes defence was. A big commanding defender who is confident on the ball, Maguire adds fresh legs to the ageing pair of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth.
A signing that is in the offing is Sevilla midfielder Vicente Iborra. Shakespeare had been monitoring Iborra ever since they played against him in the Champions League. He is a strong, powerful player with an attacking mind set and has proved that this season in La Liga with 7 goals from defensive midfield. Iborra will add a different style to the East Midlanders side bringing an added aerial ability and physical presence.
Whilst signing key players to strengthen their squad they also will need to keep hold of players that can really perform on the big occasions. We all saw what happened when Kante went and what a hole in the Leicester side it left and ultimately turned them into a shadow of their former selves. So the implications of the departures of Kasper Schmeichel and Riyad Mahrez could be similar.
Riyad Mahrez’s future has been heavily speculated as his head looks to be turned from the King Power Stadium. Clubs such as Inter Milan, Barcelona and Arsenal in the hunt to sign the talented Algerian. Mahrez was a key factor in their title winning season with the goals he scored and the chances he created. For Leicester to really make an impression on the league this year, they will need to keep this man, However, the 2016 PFA Player of the Year is head and shoulders above other talent in that team and many Leicester fans may already expect him to depart.
This is a similar situation for Schmeichel. He was tremendous in the title winning season and was arguably their best player last season. He has showed in the Premier League that he is to be much like his father, a big, solid, commanding goalkeeper who is crucial at making the big saves when it matters. Last season exemplified his qualities as if it wasn’t for that man Leicester would have been in big trouble. The Foxes know how important Kasper Schmeichel is to them but like Mahrez, if the money is right, they could be swayed.
Leicester next season may pose a threat to the top ten and there summer signings show they mean business next season. However, if they fail to keep their big names the task will be so much trickier.
(Featured Image credit: outside90.com)