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Where Are Leicester’s Title Defending Recruits?

Where Are Leicester’s Title Defending Recruits?

Islam Slimani has left Leicester today to join Monaco on a season-long loan – and he wasn’t the only flop in the summer 2016 window. No football fan will ever forget the sensational story of Leicester in 2015-16 – a team who had just survived relegation the season before, taken over by a manager in Claudio Ranieri who could have been regarded as a perennial underachiever, defied the odds to beat their high-spending rivals to glory.

Part of the reason why Leicester were so successful could be pinned on their recruitment – N’Golo Kante was the undoubted bargain signing of the season at just £5.5million from Caen, and his all-action energetic displays helped the Foxes triumph despite only having a two man midfield.

Shinji Okazaki was one of the unsung heroes of the Foxes side as his selfless running allowed the likes of Jamie Vardy time and space to score the goals needed, while Christian Fuchs arrived on a free transfer and was just as adept at doing his defensive work as he was attacking. So, when planning for the 2016-17 season, which would include a Champions League campaign, recruitment would be key to keep the momentum going.

However, it proved to be disastrous. Slimani broke the club’s transfer record at the time, signing for £28million from Sporting Lisbon and did add some European experience to proceedings. He scored seven in 23 in the Premier League, which was not a bad return by any stretch, but he did not have the same understanding with Vardy as Okazaki and the partnership never looked to work.

Elsewhere, Ahmed Musa was brought in to add yet more lightning pace and help continue the tradition of counter-attacking football which helped them win the league. However, he was mainly used as a substitute and it did not take long before he rejoined CSKA Moscow.

He now plays for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia. Ron-Robert Zieler was another summer capture who failed to impress, though, in fairness, he was always brought in as cover for Kasper Schmeichel. He made nine appearances covering for Schmeichel while he was injured, though left for Stuttgart the following summer and he is now back at Hannover, the club he joined Leicester from. The other two senior acquisitions are still at the club, though for how much longer remains anyone’s guess.

Nampalys Mendy only played four league games before being let go on loan to Nice for the 2017-18 season. However, he returned to the King Power Stadium and enjoyed a renaissance period under Claude Puel, being a regular fixture in midfield alongside Wilfried Ndidi. However, he has made few appearances since Brendan Rodgers came in and could be set to move from the club soon.

The final player is probably the most forgettable – Polish winger Bartosz Kapustka was signed from Cracovia in his homeland. He has never figured in the Premier League, and only played four times in cup competitions. Kapustka has spent the past two years out on loan with German side Freiburg and Belgian outfit OH Leuven before returning this summer, where his prospects once again look bleak.

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