Are Leicester City capable of retaining their title by signing Bartosz Kapustka?
With the Foxes reportedly nearing the completion of a deal for 19-year-old midfielder Bartosz Kapustka for a fee of £7.4 million, according to the Independent, their squad is beginning to take shape for their title defence. The Polish international attracted attention from across Europe, with Everton, Southampton and Ajax all said to have been monitoring the youngster after impressive performances at the Euros this summer.
The Cracovia Kraków player usually plays on the left wing, but can also play on the right or in a more central role, and has attracted plaudits from some major footballing names, including famous Foxes fan Gary Lineker. With eleven caps and two international goals to his name, after scoring five and assisting nine goals in 33 games in the Polish Ekstraklasa last term, Kapustka is now ready for the next step in his career since his debut aged 16.
However, what has caught the headlines was Claudio Ranieri’s statement that the club would not be making any more signings. He told Sky Sports, “no, we are complete, I am happy.” The reigning champions have already signed Luis Hernandez, Raul Uche Rubio, Ahmed Musa, Ron-Robert Zieler and Nampalys Mendy, with N’Golo Kante the only notable exit so far this summer as the Itailan boss has sought to add depth to his squad as they prepare for the challenges of both Premier League and Champions League football.
As a 4-0 friendly defeat to PSG has shown, that will be no easy feat. However, the most important task this summer was always to retain their star players, and so far, they’ve not done too badly. Whilst Kante forced through a move to Chelsea, their other main stars, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, both look set to stay in the East Midlands, with Vardy having turned down a move to Arsenal and speculation surrounding Mahrez now calming down as bookies list him as odds on to remain at his current club. The core of that squad will be vital if they are to fight to retain their impressive title victory last season.
The bookies who so famously gave odds of 5000/1 on last season’s miraculous victory are not expecting a repeat. With the shortest odds of Leicester retaining their title on the market as far out as 20/1, and some going as far as 41/1, they doubt that lightening will strike twice in the city.
They may have good reason to suspect so too. The challenge of Champions League football will add stress to a small squad, which based its success around a small and tight knit squad last season, who also benefitted from few injuries.
They also were on hand to take advantage of the opening created by other teams playing poorly, with Chelsea and Manchester City two of the biggest under performers. With the arrivals of Antonio Conte, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, alongside the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, and more signings expected, with even Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool looking stronger this summer, it won’t be so easy to beat the bigger sides next season.
The loss of N’Golo Kante is also a massive blow to Ranieri, who relied on defensive strength, and has seen their squad weakened slightly by his absence. Whilst Namalpys Mendy could be a good replacement, it is a gamble and he could easily fail to live up to expectations.
After losing Steve Walsh to Everton, the mastermind behind the Mahrez and Vardy deals, such gambles may struggle to pay off as successfully as they did last season. Ranieri has added depth though, and the Italian is distancing his side from any hope of retaining their title, saying that their odds should in fact be 6000/1 this time around. For the Foxes to do that, they will have to reproduce their quality performances from last season and hope for a bit of luck along the way.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Pamala Smith.
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