The slow dismantling of Leicester City’s title-winning side of a few years ago has continued this summer with another couple players crucial to that most surprising of championships leaving the club. Riyad Mahrez completed his record-breaking Manchester City move (£60m is surprisingly the most City have ever spent on a single player), while Robert Huth unofficially retired after a year out with various injuries. N’Golo Kanté and Danny Drinkwater had already left of course, both ending up at Chelsea to great, and less than great effect, respectively.
Next to leave could be Kasper Schmeichel, who’s been linked semi-seriously with Chelsea as a potential replacement for Thibaut Courtois. But Leicester are also sweating the future of Harry Maguire, who arrived after the title win but has more than lived up to the promise he had shown in the colors of Hull City a few years ago. He’s been increasingly linked with Manchester United where Grumpy McGrumperson is up to his usual third-season shenanigans already.
But as far as Leicester are concerned, or at least as far as manager Claude Puel is hoping they are concerned, it’s already too late for either Chelsea or United to make a move.
“I think we can keep both players. It is crucial for us.”
“We cannot lose players just a few days before the beginning of the season. We would not be able to find a solution and we cannot be be behind.”
“Kasper and Maguire are so valuable for us. It is important to maintain our structure, our squad and all our valuable players for the team.”
“We know all the difficulties after the World Cup, to work in this condition to prepare all of the squad, to keep good mentality and spirit and to find a good level for every player.”
“If we have another surprise before the end of the pre-season, it will be tough.”
-Claude Puel; source: Leicester Mercury
Puel may be overstating his worries, but he also has a point. Leicester might gain upwards of £100m from Maguire (£65m+) and Schmeichel (£30m seems a standard price these days), but they’d be hard-pressed to find proper replacements in the 10 days remaining in the transfer window. This is a concern for Chelsea, too, especially with regards to Hazard and Courtois.
That said, 10 days can be an eternity in the transfer market as well. It’s something that’s likely to be proven once again in what’s promising to be a madcap last few days and, especially, transfer deadline day in this abbreviated window.