For Leicester City FC, Mission Impossible had been accomplished. A team that narrowly escaped relegation only a year ago, have been crowned the Champions of England. In what is a truly remarkable accomplishment that will be etched in the memory of every football fan lucky enough to witness it, the Champions have a new question to address.
Can they maintain their success and become a force that can sustain challenges for the European Places or the English title for the seasons to come?
The answer may not be that easy to determine.
This sort of situation has occurred in the past. An underdog performs well above its expectations, established giants sweep in to take their players. It may or may not work out for all the parties. The players may struggle in the giant club, making their new parent feel it was not a worthwhile investment in the player.
The former underdog would then lose the core players of their team, and receive massive amounts of cash. They would spend on several players in the hope of creating a new look team, which might take a while to develop the chemistry and adapt to their new surroundings. This limits the true potential of the team and their results are not as expected.
Tottenham, following their sale of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, purchased several players. Not all were successful and it took them time to really get their act together.
On the other hand, if the manager stays, they retain their share even if they lose their core. The biggest example of this is Southampton. In 2013/14, Southampton finished 8th and their core, consisting of Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers, Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Jack Cork all left. A new core, centred around Lovern, Pelle, Bertrand, Clyne, Long, Mane was created and the Saints improved to 7th. In 2015/16, they look set to match their points tally or improve their tally, qualifying for Europe once again.
On to Leicester City now.
Firstly, the man that’s responsible for their title, Claudio Ranieri will be remaining as the boss for the foreseeable future. As shown by the Saints, if the man in charge is committed to the team, they can cope well, even if they lose their core players responsible for their success. The Italian manager is more than happy to stay at the King Power Stadium, which is good for the team.
Regarding their players. Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, N’golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater , Kasper Schmeichel, , Christian Fuchs, Robert Huth, Shinji Okazaki all played vital roles in helping Leicester reaching the title. Naturally, they are subject to interest to some of the giants of Europe. However, its highly likely that Huth will stay, owing to his age, while others still have a few good years left in them at the very least. Mahrez, Vardy, Kante, Schmeichel are attracting interest from teams like Barcelona, PSG among others.
What Leicester can offer is a guaranteed starting spot to all of them, which might not be the case at bigger clubs like Barcelona. Uncertainity of a place in the team often leads to dissatisfaction at the giant clubs who have talented players on the bench not getting the playing time that they deserve. This is the biggest advantage they can use to keep this talented core at Leicester. However, they will have to increase the wages to ensure retention. This should be possible as the riches of the new Premier League television deal, and income from Champions League football, doubling the wages or more of their players could serve as a good incentive.
On that front, Riyad Mahrez has confirmed he will stay at the Champions, and the club are in the midst of negotiating a deal that doubles his wages. It’s a start in the right direction.
Another strong point for Leicester are the owners. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the owner since 2011, has been committed to the team and has a plan. As stated by Ranieri, they plan to establish themselves as a top half Premier League team over the next few years, before challenging for the Europa league spots in the next 5 years. This is a sound plan and with the influx of money that they will receive, the club can improve their squad depth.
The owners are also willing to reward the players with a new bonus structure. As per the new proposed deal, each player gets a bonus of 15,000 quid per match won. This should be a sound investment into the team. With the owners supportive of the team and approving of a long term plan and the trust they place in Ranieri, the manager alone can have the say in the transfers.
This support allows the manager to build a squad that suits his system and can hold him accountable for all proceedings, successes and failures. It also avoids issues that have been seen in Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool in the transfers wanted by the managers and their owners.
Overall, since their manager is 100% committed, Leicester are heading in the right direction in establishing themselves as a top Premier League team. As they look likely to retain a core and have supportive owners, the team could be a force in English football in the making.
Sports is such an amazing passion. A content writer of NBA