Leicester City continue an efficient transfer window by signing James Maddison
Leicester City is far away from repeating 2015/16's inspiring Premier League title run, but they're heading in the right direction again. Not only are they Premier League regulars, they returned to the table's top half. Even better, they are demonstrating further ambition. In his first summer in charge, Claude Puel is moving swiftly in the transfer window. Despite the horror show towards season's end, the club is keeping faith with him. To be fair, the Foxes do look better and ready to compete for the European spots.
City kicked off their transfer window by signing Ricardo Pereira. The Portuguese right-back is on a five-year deal for £18 million. It was a necessary upgrade. Danny Simpson is 32 and on the decline.
Pereira and Puel know each other from their time at Nice. The 24-year old loves to bomb forward, take people on and get involved in attacks. He is strong defensively, too.
Jonny Evans was second in the door. Again, it was an important addition. Club captain Wes Morgan is a legend who played a vital part in City's championship run, but he's 34 now. He showed his age last season.
Evans came at the bargain price of £3.5 million, his relegation buyout clause. The former Baggies captain had been among West Brom's better players the past four years, proving his Premier League quality. The Northern Irishman will provide another option to play out from the back while partnering Harry Maguire.
Most recently, City signed Championship star James Maddison for £22 million with £2 million in add-ons. Maddison was among the Championship's best players last season. He was directly involved in 45% of Norwich City's goals, scoring 14 while registering eight assists in 44 appearances. The Englishman made 2.8 key passes per game, most in the division, and completed 2.4 dribbles. He was also fouled 3.3 times per 90, showing how much he frustrated defenders.
Maddison was Norwich's central attacking mid. His job was to make things happen. He did it well. The 21-year-old would drop deep, collect the ball, take people on, play a one-two, a through ball or just whack it in himself. He glides across the pitch effortlessly, ball control up there with the best. He has great whip on crosses and is a set-piece specialist. Maddison's deliveries, more often than not, are pinpoint.
Puel has moved from the traditional Leicester 4-4-2 to more of a 4-4-1-1. So far, the Frenchman has used Kelechi Iheanacho, Shinji Okazaki, Demarai Gray, Riyad Mahrez, Adrien Silva and Fousseni Diabaté in the hole. None have stuck.
Maddison is expected to take over and hit the ground running. He might need to bulk up a bit, but the former Coventry City youngster is always keen on learning and developing. He has a mature head on young shoulders and goes about his business quietly, rather than creating a fuss.
Maddison will share the creative burden in the final third with Mahrez. if the Algerian stays. If not, the youngster will become the creative fulcrum. Maddison is surely a future England star. A move to the Premier League will only accelerate his chances.
The Foxes have done fantastic business so far, but they must not stop. Selling is as important as buying and Leicester have some merchandise to offload. Islam Slimani, Leonardo Ulloa and Matty James are just a few who appear to have no future at the King Power.
The club still needs to buy, too. Another backup centre back is a must. A left back can be considered if the funds are available. The biggest issue is Mahrez.
If Leicester are willing to sell the wantaway star, they shouldn't drag out the saga. Do a deal quickly to find a suitable replacement. Replacing a player who has bagged double digits for goals and assists for the past three seasons won't be easy and is best done with time to spare.
If the club can somehow make amends with the gifted winger, however, they have everything in place to become the 'best of the rest' and challenge for the European spots.