January Sales: Leicester’s Rumoured Targets

I have spent much of the last three months grimacing, cringing and evading any conversation about my pre-season appraisal of Leicester City. Having, in retrospect, naively assumed that stats alone would be enough to see the Foxes in to the 2015–16 Premier League season, it seems I forgot to account for what is now clear, our distinct lack of quality. With the Foxes languishing unthinkably at the bottom of the table, and some FIVE points behind Burnley in 17th, the January transfer window will be simply crucial.

Defence 

SD Eibar’s Raul Albentosa

City’s kamikaze defending since September has largely been the reason for dropped points. Individual catastrophes made from both full backs and centre backs have led to the Foxes conceding soft goals and leaving matches with less than they ‘deserved’. Fans have called out for strengthening in both areas of defence. Tottenham Hotspur’s Kyle Naughton is said to be out of favour, and has thus been linked with a return to the City. However, with two right backs in Ritchie De Laet and Danny Simpson tied up for the long-term, signing another player in this position is unlikely to be a priority. Fellow former loanee Curtis Davies is too being banded about as a potential signing, but given his position as Hull City’s captain is extremely unlikely to replicate Nigel Pearson’s team switching. Elsewhere, lesser known centre backs in Bournemouth’s Steve Cook and SD Eibar’s Raul Albentosa are apparently on City’s wishlist. The Cherries are flying high at the top of the Championship, so tempting him away from the South Coast may be tricky. Albentosa currently plies his trade with La Liga minnows, Eibar and has impressed in their bid to avoid the seemingly unavoidable drop. Both defenders have different strengths, Cook’s attributes are mostly suited to intercepting on the ground and playing out from defence, a weakness of Albentosa’s game, who may be better suited to winning aerial defensive battles, and helping City cope better with set pieces. It’s vital that Leicester bolster at the back, a mobile centre-half such as Curtis Davies would be ideal but we have to acknowledge how unlikely that is to happen. Steve Cook may be a decent replacement in that respect. Reports linking us to Naugthon and Eboue seem lazy and contrived, City are more in need of a left-back given Schlupp’s impending departure to the AFCON and Konchesky’s underperformance. Danny Simpson has coped defensively in place of Ritchie de Laet. 

WhoScored.Com ranks the players’ performances so far this season;
Curtis Davies (7.36), Steve Cook (7.23), Raul Albentosa (7.17), Kyle Naughton (6.57)

Midfield

Besiktas’ Veli Kavlak

Now, midfield is currently where you will find the most of Leicester City’s limited supply of Premier League quality. In central midfield, Argentinian legend Esteban Cambiasso seems to be a step ahead of the rest of the side on many ocassions and could benefit from others with greater vision. Last season’s player of the season Danny Drinkwater is struggling to attain a place in the Starting XI, jostling it out with James, King and Powell for a spot. Riyad Mahrez continues to excite on the wings, as Anthony Knockaert could if he were afforded the chance. Despite protestations from the terraces that the Foxes boast ‘the best midfield in the world’, City have come under criticism for failing to control games from the middle of the park. Tough tackling Austrian midfielder Veli Kavlak has received attention from the Foxes but will have to fight off supposed interest from Everton and Southampton. Current starting wide men, Riyad Mahrez and Jeff Schlupp are set to be called off to the African Cup of Nations in January so City will need to bolster the flanks. A whole host of names have been floated, Manchester City’s Scott Sinclair is rumoured but could demand a wage packet out of the reach of the Foxes. Too, a loan deal for Arsenal’s World Cup star Joel Campbell has also been reported. It’s vital that City get a bit more bite in midfield, Kavlak could be the answer and a real coup given the interest he’s attracting, down the wing, one replacement should be enough with Albrighton and Knockaert fully able to step in to Mahrez’ and Schlupp’s boots in their absence. Sinclair has become a bit of a question mark but may be worth a punt given Arsenal’s likely reluctance to let Campbell go anyway on a permanent basis.

WhoScored.Com ranks the players’ performances so far this season;
Veli Kavlak (6.94), Joel Campbell (6.46), Scott Sinclair (n/a)

 Attack

Milan’s Fernando Torres

Despite the goal scoring exploits of newboy Leonardo Ulloa, the Foxes’ strikers have been largely unimpressive with the three other strikers, Chris Wood, David Nugent and Jamie Vardy scoring just once each. Unsurprisingly, strikers are the many focal point for City’s transfer speculation. There’s nothing to say here in great deal, except that City need a proven goal scorer. Having failed to capture either of Sporting’s Islam Slimani and Watford’s Troy Deeney. However, The Foxes may not have the luxury of attracting a tried and tested formula, despite tenous links with Everton’s Arouna Koné, Chelsea’s Fernando Torres and Toronto’s Jermain Defoe, who seems likely to head to Loftus Road, Leicester may need to take a punt on a wonderkid. Links have been made with Alexsandar Mitrovic of Anderlecht, whose goal scoring exploits this term would command a high fee. Luciano Vietto is said to be on Newcastle’s radar, putting City in the weaker bargaining position. Leicester are too reported to have had a £7.9m bid rejected for Andrej Kramaric, who is too high on league leaders Chelsea’s list. If the Foxes were to buy domestically then raids of Ipswich Town and Crystal Palace have been suggested with a resurgence of links to the Tractor Boys’s striker David McGoldrick, who has netted six goals in the second tier this season. Elsewhere, the Eagles’ back-up striker Dwight Gayle has recently been touted and may find more favour at the King Power Stadium than at Selhurst Park. In my view, strikers like McGoldrick and Gayle, who have failed to stand out in even the second tier of English football, are the strikers we should be avoiding. Admittedly, it will be a lot harder to attract a Jermain Defoe, that still has a lot to offer to a struggling top-flight side, or a wonder-kid like Vietto or Mitrovic but these are the players City should prefer, on the premise they are confident of being able to do a deal.

WhoScored.Com ranks the players’ performances so far this season;
Andrej Kramaric (7.44), Troy Deeney (7.24), David McGoldrick (7.11), Luciano Vietto (7.05), Islam Slimani (6.93), Jermain Defoe (6.92), Aleksandar Mitrovic (6.91), Arouna Kone (6.58), Fernando Torres (6.54), Dwight Gayle (6.26)

What the Bookies think

Here are the bookies odds on some players joining Leicester City in the next Transfer window;
Aaron Lennon – 20/1 (BetVictor)
Danny Ings – 33/1 (BetVictor)
Fabian Delph – 20/1 (BetVictor)
Gary Hooper – 33/1 (BetVictor)
Glen Johnson – 20/1 (Betfair)
Jermain Defoe – Evens (Sky Bet & Bet Victor), 11/8 (Betfair)
Joel Campbell – 16/1 (BetVictor)
Kris Commons – 4/1 (BetVictor)
Moussa Dembele – 20/1 (BetVictor)
Ravel Morrison – 13/2 (Paddy Power)
Scott Sinclair – 12/1 (Sky Bet)
Tyrone Mings – 20/1 (Sky Bet)

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