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What next for Ranieri's Foxes?

Wednesday 20th July 2016
They went from relegation battlers to Premier League champions within the space of one year in a story that could have only been deemed possible on football manager. Claudio Ranieri took Nigel Pearson's team and elevated it to a level that no one could have ever imagined. With a fairytale story that is set to be replayed for decades to come where do the Premier League Champions, yes Champions, Leicester go from here?
When Montpellier defied all odds and pipped footballing juggernauts PSG to the Ligue 1 title  in 2012, nobody knew how to react. A small town club residing in Southern France toppled PSG, the flag bearer of French football. A club that had a yearly budget three times less than what PSG had spent on transfers in the previous summer, conquered them.

Just like Leicester last season this wasn't a fluke, Montpellier racked up the second highest points tally in Ligue 1 history with an amazing 82 points. A team built on the foundations of young players (home-grown talent), discipline, hard work and shrewd transfer dealings. Olivier Giroud spearheaded the attack and swept up the golden boot with 21 goals. But in the following summer, they would lose their star man Giroud to Arsenal and that would be the beginning of the end, they finished 9th the next season. Will be the same be said for Leicester?
Leicester managed to fend off Arsenal from stealing star striker Jamie Vardy who recently signed a new 4-year deal with the foxes. The 29-year old grabbed all the headlines last season as he became the only player in Premier League history to score in 11 consecutive games but despite scoring 24 league goals last season, Vardy wasn't the primary reason for Leicester's success. The England international is a player reliant on supply, he's incapable of producing magic out of thin air to drag his team through a sticky situation like Mahrez. Vardy finished the moves that were created by Mahrez but initiated by Kante.

 

If it wasn't for the interceptions Kante made, Drinkwater & Mahrez wouldn't have been able to the thread the balls to feed Vardy's movement. Kante made 4.7 interceptions per game equating to 156 for the season, more than any other player.  The Frenchman also made 175 tackles, once again more than any other player while Mahrez quietly accredited 18 goals and 11 assists to his name. Vardy is what I like to describe as the cherry on top of the cake, not the cake itself. Leicester lose their steel and creativity if they lose Kante and Mahrez, one has already left, the other wants to go.

Reports from France Football broke last week that Riyad Mahrez would not be willing to start contract extension negotiations with Leicester City, the winger will be seeking to move to a big European club this summer. Ranieri came out last night and claimed Mahrez wants to stay, but he said the same thing one month ago. Vardy and Mahrez were directly involved in 48 of the club's 64 goals, together they were unparalleled, but after rejecting Arsenal and signing a new deal how will Jamie be feeling now?
New signing Musa and youngster Gray won't  be enough to fill the void left by Mahrez, and who will replace the incredible defensive contribution of Kante in the middle? Let's not forget that Leicester will also have the daunting task of playing amongst Europe's elite next season, do they have the squad depth to deal with the extra fixtures? As Leicester enter the 2016/17 season as champions teams will certainly be more aware of how they set up, Vardy will be marked tighter and teams will aim to close down Drinkwater quicker in order to suffocate the supply. Last season Leicester raced to the top of the mountain with let's be honest minimal competition but this season the top teams will be eager to set the record straight.

There are just so many new factors being stirred into the cauldron for Leicester to consider, and I'm just not sure they'll be able to cope with the change and unfamiliar circumstances.

Prediction: Leicester will finish 8th next season.

Sorry.

And if they don't, you can abuse me all you want at the end of the season. @Mathaeus__
Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with ample amounts of passion for both Cristiano Ronaldo & Real Madrid. I'm one of those bandwagonist hipster fans that will claim to know everything about football, but only watches the El Clasico outside of the Premier League. Forgive me, I'm trying. Oh yeah, #WengerOut. 


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