Leicester City Season Preview

How we got here

The Foxes are entering a crossroads. After consecutive years during which they tumbled out of the top four down the stretch, Leicester City needs to hit the ground running this year. While the team was plagued with significant injuries to Ricardo Periera, James Justin, Harvey Barnes, James Maddison, Wilfred Ndidi, and others, seeing them fall out of the Champions League spots to a surging Liverpool side was painful.

Add in a disappointing Europa League showing and it would only be natural for some members of the team to decide if they need a move to a bigger side as Leicester is entering a crossroads this season. Brenden Rodgers has been backed but he needs to deliver results. After a season that saw the Foxes use far too many formations, hopefully, some consistency can be found this year while juggling Europa League and AFCON.

Jamie Vardy is a year older but depth was added to the side. Unfortunately, the Foxes weren’t the only team chasing Champions League to improve this year but they need to wipe last season from their memories quickly.

The departures

While Arsenal has been “linked” with wanting James Maddison this summer, it’s tough to see a move happening and even if Maddison did leave, there isn’t much that Arsenal can offer that Leicester can’t except maybe a bigger paycheck. Wes Morgan and Christian Fuchs will be losses in the leadership department but removing them from the squad doesn’t take away much from the on-field product.

Outside of that, Cengiz Under went back to Roma after a loan that saw him not make an impact at all, and Matty James left on a free transfer to Bristol City. Hamza Choudhury has been linked with a move to Newcastle United but again with the depth that Leicester has added and the steps forward that Nampalys Mendy took, it’s fine for them to let Choudhury go.

The Arrivals

Depth, depth, depth, and more depth. Leicester City knew what they needed this summer and added it in a big way. They didn’t add many players but who they added shows why quality wins over quantity. Patson Daka, Boubakary Soumare, and Ryan Bertrand are the three additions so far.

Considering the injuries suffered by Timothy Castagne, Ricardo Pereira, and Justin last year, adding a fullback with more experience than Luke Thomas was needed. And with Bertrand on a free, Leicester did just that. Bertrand can offer depth and he also is no stranger to getting forward after being in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s fullback centric attack.

Daka was one of the best forwards in Europe last year with 27 goals in the Austrian Bundesliga. His positioning and heading ability will make him very easy for the Leicester City playmakers to find and positioning also translates well from league to league. With Daka being linked to teams like Liverpool, it’s impressive that Leicester even got him when he has the ability to make the transition from Jamie Vardy a smooth one. Soumare is a similar depth signing who will be expected to spell Wilfred Ndidi and then step into a starting role during AFCON. He also adds a “lock-up shop” option in midfield that Leicester lacked last season.

Needs/ Key Positional Battles

There are no real needs for the foxes but positional battles depend on what formation is being used. During preseason it seems like a lot of 4-3-3 has been used by Brendan Rodgers but last season, a 4-2-3-1, 3-4-2-1, and 3-4-1-2 were almost interchangeable. With Harvey Barnes back in the fold, it’s safe to assume that he’ll lock down one wing spot but James Maddison can either operate on the other wing or as the ten depending on personnel. Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi will play no matter what formation is chosen but the questions are around who will play the other wing and will there be two forwards.

A switch back to a 4-4-2 makes sense with the emergence of Kelechi Iheanacho last season but it’s unknown if that is a real option. This is where things get tough as speculating Leicester City lineups brings more questions than answers. Its safe to pencil in Wesley Fofana and Caglar Soyuncu into the heart of defense but outside of those options, it’s hard to call anyone in this side nailed. If Jamie Vardy doesn’t pick things back up this season, he could possibly be moved into an impact substitute role paving the way for Daka as well.

Fantasy outlook

There are few teams that I’m more uncertain on where the top options will come from than Leicester. While Tielemans was great at the end of last season, most of that was due to taking set plays from Maddison which I don’t see continuing. Striker-wise, with the questions around Iheanacho’s playing time, while he’s the top option in the side I can’t open the season with him in FPL. This leaves Maddison who needs to prove that he’s healthy and Fofana who is steady but unexciting. Barnes, I also like more as a second forward than as a winger so his positioning this year will be something to watch.

If I had to recommend one option for your side it would be Fofana but realistically if you aren’t in a draft league (at which point the entire XI is being selected) then I’d avoid the Foxes for the first few weeks and plan around getting them in with an early wildcard.