Three things that must happen for Leicester City to count deadline day as a success
It is fair to say that it’s been a summer of rebuilding as far as Leicester City are concerned after a woeful defence of their Premier League title, only pulling themselves away from relegation in April.
Hull City’s prodigy Harry Maguire became the first arrival in a £17 million deal, followed by the marquee signings of Sevilla midfielder Vicente Iborra and Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho.
Yet the main talk of Leicester City’s summer has come in the form of potential outgoings, with talisman Riyad Mahrez handing in a written transfer request shortly after the close of the season, Chelsea strongly linked with Danny Drinkwater and Demarai Gray seemingly moving close to an exit.
With the future of some of his side’s biggest stars still hanging by a thread it’s set to be a hectic debut deadline day for Craig Shakespeare, and The Boot Room looks at what would be the perfect outcome.
Keep hold of Riyad Mahrez
This one goes without saying really.
The 26-year-old winger was a sensation in the unlikeliest of title triumphs two years ago and, naturally, he has gathered interest from some of the best teams across Europe so far this summer.
Roma – as reported by Sky Sports – were seemingly front-runners for so long but, credit where credit’s due, Leicester boss Shakespeare hasn’t budged an inch on his valuation and rejected countless bids.
Names of Leicester’s Premier League rivals have also been loosely thrown around at varying points of the summer but, after three months of rumours, it’s reached the stage where things have gone a little quiet.
And the fact that the Algerian has equipped himself excellently since handing in a transfer request, turning out each week in the Leicester City team and giving his all, is only a good sign ahead of 11pm.
Unlike other high-profile Premier League players – looking at you Virgil van Dijk, Philippe Coutinho and Alexis Sanchez – who have all of a sudden picked up ‘injuries’ since being linked with big moves away, Mahrez has remained committed to the Foxes and even show glimpses of near-peak form this year.
Keep hold of Danny Drinkwater
You can see there’s a bit of a pattern developing here.
There was always a sense of inevitability that Europe’s big boys would start sniffing around Leicester’s title-winning side of 2016 and, after a poor season last time out, it’s happening now.
Chelsea submitted their second formal offer, as reported by BBC Sport, on Tuesday for the 27-year-old, leading Drinkwater to hand in a formal transfer request and ask to leave for the club for London.
But time is beginning to run out as far as the reigning champions are concerned and, unless they meet Leicester’s reported £30 million valuation, Antonio Conte could find it hard to beat the clock.
Alternatively, it may not be the worst thing in the world if Drinkwater did leave as long as boss Shakespeare can find a suitable replacement in time and utilise the incoming funds the right way.
The way that the Leicester manager has handled the tricky Mahrez and Drinkwater situations this summer makes it appear that he’s incredibly smart and switched on, and it’s unlikely that he would allow the England midfielder to leave without a signing lined-up – so if he does go, expect movement.
Cover any potential exits with Andros Townsend
With the future of Mahrez still unsure, and fellow winger Demarai Gray attracting interest from Tottenham and Bournemouth, as per the Mirror, Leicester need to cover their backs in case both go.
It’s an incredibly unlikely scenario but as the cliché goes anything can happen on a hectic and roller-coaster transfer deadline day, and the Foxes need to be careful not to be short on attacking options.
Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend is a name that has all of a sudden flown into the picture and continued to grow in stature – a rumour started by the Mirror – and should anyone leave then the 26-year-old would be a more than capable addition at the King Power, even if the £27 million price tag is steep.
It’s easy to forget that Townsend was once a key part of the England national side, and had he not spent the past years battling relegation at Palace there’s a huge chance he would have continued developing.
In an ideal world the speculation surrounding Townsend will drop off as the day goes on, meaning that Leicester’s current crop of wingers are staying, but there are worse replacements the Foxes could buy.