Leicester City 2018-2019 Transfer Review

Note: This is the latest breakdown of transfer moves leading up to the 2018-19 Premier League season. This post will be updated throughout the transfer window as appropriate. 
I think that the Foxes are set to have another midtable position, though I think that if they can get some good performances from their centerbacks (and defense at large) they could vie for a continental position. Their biggest problem from last year was their inability to keep goals out (resulting in a -4 goal differential). The Foxes conceded the 5th most goals in all of the Premier League, and their defense is something the Foxes will need to address in the short-term, rather than the long-term. Their is a good reason that Claudio Puel has stated his desire to keep Maguire, as he’s the only centerback under 30, and the remaining centerbacks are 30, 31, and 34. This is definitely a concern — mostly to injury susceptibility, they have enough ability to hold the line if they are healthy.
I think that the addition of Maddison will allow for the Foxes to begin to address the other side of that equation. They need to score more goals, Jamie Vardy contributed 23 goals and the next highest was the now-departed Riyhad Mahrez, with the other 3 strikers not equalling Vardy’s contribution combined. I think that the addition of Maddison will increase the quality of the balls distributed to those strikers, though I expect Maddison will had a fair number of goals as well.

Ins:

  • James Maddison ($27.5M from Norwich) – Maddison’s season from the Championship with Norwich was very good, he made 49 appearances in all competitions last season contributing 15 goals and 11 assists. I think he’s green but should grow into this position especially with the quality of his new teammates. He has exceptional skills in dribbling, through balls, passing, and free kicks — and should be able to fill a lot of the Mahrez-role with good quality. My one concern about him is his disciple — he picked up 9 yellow cards in those games and he will need to continue to grow in his ability to keep his head. That said, I think he will be able to do it and I applaud this signing for the Foxes.
  • Ricardo Pereira ($22M from FC Porto) – Pereira’s form in the Portuguese first division at his preferred right back position was exceptional. In 27 appearances, he was named man of the match 3 times while averaging 4 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1.3 key passes and 2 clearances per game. Pereira comes with a big price tag, but I think he will fit right into the first team and provide some substantial upside. Pereira will be a replacement/rotation option for Danny Simpson who missed a good portion of the season due to injury, though I imagine that Pereira will start to take minutes from Simpson who is aging.
  • Danny Ward ($14M from Liverpool) – I think that this move is a future-oriented move providing back up for Kasper Schmeichel. There has been lots of discussion of Schmeichel’s future with the club, and perhaps not discussed as loudly the fact that Schmeichel is aging and there’s not really a successor with the Foxes. I think this move is give Ward and Schmeichel an opportunity to compete against each other and continue to get better, while providing a safety net for Leicester if something were to occur with Schmeicel, be it transfer or injury.
  • Jonny Evans ($4M from West Brom) – Evans is probably a good pickup for Leicester at this price, his skills have never been in doubt. What has been his downfall for past clubs (like Manchester United) was his inconsistency, which made him somewhat of a liability. That said, I think that Leicester has enough quality to use Evans as mostly a rotation option — and he can definitely give some good performances. Perhaps they’ll be able to further develop his consistency and make him a solid piece of their defense (which would also give them an option to sell him at a later date for a reasonable profit). This signing may also be something of a planning move in the case that Harry McGuire is successfully pried from the the Foxes hands.
  • Rachid Ghezzal ($15M from Monaco) – Ghezzal will compliment Maddison as a replacement for Mahrez. He’s a great playmaking midfielder, though — he does seem to have a bit of a weakness in finishing his chances. He should be able to contribute substantially through the midfield regardless of where he plays in the attacking midfield role (center, left, or right), I anticipate him adding substantially to his assists tally from where it was at in Ligue 1 (right about 450’/assist). I think that his ability to facilitate will help Maddison get onto the scoresheet as well, so even if Ghezzel doesn’t contribute goals — he should have a big impact. I think the transfer fee is perhaps a little high, but this late in the game you have to be willing to part with more transfer funds than normal to ensure the transfer is closed in time.
  • Filip Benkovic ($16M from Dinamo Zagreb) – Benkovic looks like a very promising young central defender. He’s made a number of appearances for various Croatian youth teams, possibly most impressively — a debut at 18 for the U21 team. He’s been playing a good number of first team games in the Croatian first division. I am interested to see how much he plays for the first team — I think he will definitely play some though. Out of the gate I expect him to be a rotation option, but don’t be surprised to see him feature anytime there’s fixture congestion or an injury. I think this is a good-forward focused signing (and might be an attempt to mitigate players that may retire and/or move on transfers as early as January). Benkovic (note: the Croatian first division doesn’t equate to the Bundesliga) has been more involved in the scoring/assisting for the Croatian-side, but I don’t know how much it will translate to the Premier League.
  • Caglar Söyüncü ($23.5M from SC Freiburg) – Much of what I wrote about Benkovic also seems true about Söyüncü, though I expect he’s a little further along in development than Benkovich. I think that for a lower-stakes trophy you could possibly see these two start in the back so that they can begin to work on their partnernship because it looksl ike it may be a long-term relationship. I anticipate a slightly more involved role for Söyüncü than I envision for Benkovic, but I think they both have a bright future with the club.

Outs:

  • Riyad Mahrez ($74.6m to Manchester City) – Mahrez seasons for the Foxes have been all over the place in terms of consistency (see Manchester City part 2). I really think this was a great move for Leicester, they allowed the player that didn’t want to stay an opportunity to leave. They also managed to get a ton of money for a player with potential, sure, but he’s not been able to consistently harness that — and they’ve ended up funding their whole summer transfer window (at least so far) with the proceeds from just this one transfer.
  • Ben Hamer (Free Transfer to Huddersfield) – After signing Danny Ward from Liverpool, they can afford to let Hamer leave. They’ve had a big increase in quality with the Ward signing.
  • Robert Huth (Released) – Huth did not make an appearance for the first team last season and only made a couple appearances in the reserve team. He spent the entire first half of the season on the sidelines with an ankle injury, it doesn’t appear that he’s shown enough to the training and coaching staff to feel comfortable signing him in a new deal. Whether that’s due to age, injury potential, or a combination — only the Foxes can tell you.
  • Ahmed Musa ($18M to Al-Nassr) – Musa was bought in 2016/2017 from CSKA Moscow, but he’s hardly made any appearances for the Foxes. He’s only clocked 21 appearances for a total of 752′ scoring only 2 goals. The Foxes took a loss by selling him for this price, it’s basically $3.5M less than they bought him for, but I think it’s best to move the player on rather than allow him to sit on the bench for no reason.

Last Update: August 15, 2018

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