Leicester Must Bolster Their Squad This Summer & Ease the Burden on Wilfred Ndidi & Jamie Vardy
Undeniably, Leicester City have had a remarkable season.
The Foxes sit comfortably in third place in the Premier League – despite a slight drop off in form – and can smugly look down towards Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal.
What Brendan Rodgers has achieved with the east Midlands side is incredible, and we shouldn’t take Leicester’s sensational success this season for granted.
Champions League qualification looks assured, especially given Manchester City’s potential European ban, and the King Power has witnessed some sensational football throughout the campaign.
But, while we need to learn to enjoy the present more as football fans, Leicester need to have one eye on next year.
With European nights on the cards, Rodgers and the Foxes’ hierarchy need to consider bolstering their squad, with injuries and absences having proved costly at times this season.
The greatest example of this has been how Leicester have (or haven’t) coped without defensive midfielder Wilfred Ndidi.
The Nigerian has been a revelation since joining the Foxes back in January 2017, providing a balance and grit to Leicester’s midfield following the departure of N’Golo Kante. The enforcer, Ndidi is invaluable, protecting the back four and sniffing out danger before it can come to fruition, and the 23-year-old is an essential cog in the spine of Leicester’s team.
However, the midfielder has suffered with injuries this term, currently sidelined with a knee problem that has kept him out of the side since late January. Leicester have lost three of their last six Premier League matches – worryingly two of them came against Burnley and Southampton – and Ndidi has missed all three of the defeats.
Dennis Praet has done a passable job in his absence but fails to command the centre of the park with the same authority as his teammate, while Nampalys Mendy has one foot out of the door, and Hamza Choudhury has a lot of learning to do.
As a result, the Foxes have been left well short of adequate cover, and this is something that has been detrimental to their form of late. With Champions League football to consider next season, the need for strength in depth has never been greater, especially in midfield, due to the immense workload Rodgers’ players are expected to get through.
Another area in which a lack of depth has been noticeable is up front.
While Jamie Vardy has been in characteristically swashbuckling form – still leading the Premier League’s goalscoring charts with 17 – the 33-year-old is without a goal in his last seven league matches, something that has unsurprisingly coincided with Leicester’s worst form of the season to date.
Without Vardy up top, Leicester have been forced to rely on the inconsistency of Kelechi Iheanacho, who possesses plenty of talent, but hardly matches the style and ferocity of his strike partner.
At 33 years of age, Vardy would be forgiven for thinking he’d earn the odd rest. But his value and unrivalled importance to Leicester’s dynamism going forward – with his pace, power and proficiency unmatched by any of his teammates – means he, and the Foxes, are baring the brunt of his lack of recovery time.
Vardy hasn’t looked nearly as sharp and prolific as he did during the start of the season, with his goal tally taking a serious nosedive as a result. With Carabao Cup progression having taken its toll on the attacker, Champions League football may just about kill him, if he’s not supported in this summer’s transfer market.
Leicester have the potential to build off their tremendous 2019/20 campaign, and can even be considered dark horses for Champions League success next year, but none of this can happen without apt investment.
If the Foxes can’t ease the burden on their key players, then they can kiss next season goodbye, before it even begins.