Leicester City have over the past years done their best moves in the transfer market signing players from “The Unknown”, or signed players who had just missed out of a first team place at a bigger club and some had just seen a relegation face and seen Leicester City as the ideal opportunity.
The best players are of course the once you have nursed forward yourself and the likes of Peter Shilton, Steve Whitworth, David Nish, Ben Chilwell, Emile Heskey and Gary Lineker stands out as just that type of characters and made most out of their careers. This is not that usual at the moment, despite clubs investing “big money” in their academies.
Transfers are of course something that has been part of the game and also will be in the future, but to see “buying and selling” as the top priority management skill is not really favorable as those who follow the game closely rather would see the development coming through your own ranks. This will, as we have seen so clearly at Chelsea this season, make fans bond more closely to the players and be less hostile when results are not as expected.
To see an addition of two to three players each season in a squad is a normal situation and would be ideal, when your transfers are close to ten players you will have a job to administrate and welcome those new faces and to guide them in will be of a bit of risk as new faces might need more time etc.
When you look at the signings done in the 70’s by Jimmy Bloomfield he had a great nose for getting the right faces in and he did it cleverly as he had to sell other players to balance the books and being able to get the team forward. A similar situation of that we see at the moment with Brendan Rodgers who also will be affected by financial fair play regulations, revenue limits (Leicester City will never be Manchester United), they are not able to grow that type of fanbase and not able to fill a stadium of 60 to 70.000 people, so it’s obvious that Brendan Rodgers will sell and buy, but hopefully not as much as we have seen in the past.
Going back to the days of “Jimmy Bloomfield” might be so far back that few remember, but his skills in the transfer market was phenomenal. His first moves in the transfer market was to bring in Jon Sammels, Alan Birchenall and Keith Weller, all of them proven players at the highest level, but had seen themselves a bit on the fringe at places such as Arsenal and Chelsea.
He then introduced Dennis Rofe and Frank Worthington a season later, using the money from the record sale of David Nish to bring in more quality in another position, but also replacing Nish and left back. Clever moves that worked wonders. Mark Wallington also came in from the “lower leagues” for “nominal fees” of almost nothing.
Where Frank McLintock missed most of the lessons in how to act in the transfer market, Jock Wallace did a new “magic act” in his days at Leicester City. Not only introducing Gary Lineker to the first team, but also bringing in Alan Smith, Kevin MacDonald, Ian Wilson and a few more from places you had never heard of. Alvechurch, Inverness and Elgin are not places you really think of when talking top flight football.
Brian Little and Martin O’Neill also made the most of their days with Leicester City balancing the books with big money sales and signing players from places you might not look for that obvious signing. Little managed to convert Leicester City instantly from a 2nd tier relegation candidate to a play-off contender in a season and the players he got in came from places like Darlington, Notts County and such.
Martin O’Neill made calls to Crewe Alexandria (Lennon, Savage), Oxford United (Gilchrist, Elliott) and Millwall (Kasey Keller) to bring in some of his most valuable assets during his time at Leicester City. MON also brough in Muzzy Izzet from Chelsea reserves before, the later to be World Cup bronze medalist, had played a single league game at Stamford Bridge. It was magic signings done with knowledge and thoughts of how these players could grow and become vital pieces in the jigsaw.
In recent time Nigel Pearson and also Claude Puel, Craig Shakespeare and Claudio Ranieri were in charge when super signings were made. Nigel Pearson in his 2nd period at Leicester City did almost everything correctly bringing in players such Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy, Matty James, Wes Morgen, Ritchie De Laet, Danny Simpson, Robert Huth, Marc Albrighton and of course Riyad Mahrez without splashing out massive amounts of money and letting them flourish in the first team.
The moves for Shinji Okazaki, N’Golo Kantè and Christian Fuchs who all came in that summer of Claudio Ranieri. The addition of Wilfred N’Didi, Demarai Gray and Daniel Amartey were also good, without using much money on them either, they have all contributed well. Ranieri is also the manager that made Ben Chilwell and Harvey Barnes comfortable among the first teamers and gave them their taste of that type of football.
Claude Puel made a massive signing in James Maddison, Craig Shakespeare did the Harry Maguire addition without any of the two being “big stars”. Puel also signed Ricardo Pereira, Caglar Soyuncu, Jonny Evans, Filip Benkovic and Youri Tielemans (loan). Brendan Rodgers might need time to find his jewels among transfers, but so far introduced the likes of James Justin, Ayoze Perez and Dennis Praet.
What Leicester City needs to do in the future is to look “where others are not looking”. Can you find players of “gold” in the Scottish SPL, Leicester City did a shrewd move when adding Gary McAllister from Motherwell a number of years ago, could we go back and attract players who are not playing for Celtic or Rangers.
We have seen talent flourish coming to the club from Belgium, Portugal and France, from places that will of course make it cheaper than going into a market were you will get a lot of competition as it was with Adrien Silva and Islam Slimani.
The fact that Leicester City are chasing names such as Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona) and Adam Lallana (Liverpool) might not be the ideal path to follow as we have seen in the past with those “bigger names”. Stan Collymore, Roberto Mancini, Bruno N’Gotty, Steffen Freund and Esteban Cambiasso all had their fun, but it didn’t last long before “Leicester” became a boring place to be, and that might be the biggest drawback that the club is were it is and that the bigger names do bring a baggage that might not be ideal if you land in the East Midlands and Leicester.
Brendan Rodgers and his team has a few names on a list that can be interesting to follow and see what happens, but clearly trying to sign internationals might be too expensive instead of going a bit into another market to find gold, and next season TCF will hope to see James Justin flourish, a very exciting prospect and signed from Luton Town, not be surprised if he is the next man to follow on into the full England set up.