You’d do well to scour the internet and find a single sporting media outlet that hasn’t lauded Leicester’s transfer business at one point or another over the past few seasons.
And in fairness, the Foxes deserve all the credit that’s come their way. However, signing quality talent and keeping hold of said talent are two very different things.
When Brendan Rodgers walked through the doors at the King Power Stadium, he joined a club who’d recently pulled off an unbelievable coup in the loan signing of Youri Tielemans, with the Foxes going on to make the deal permanent the following summer.
Now, we all know how these deals work – you offer an undoubtedly talented youngster a platform to strut his stuff in the Premier League, then once he’s showcased his talent he secures a mega-money move to Manchester City where he’ll play 15 games a season for the next five years, before being forced to move to Everton in an attempt to salvage his career.
Not at Leicester.
No longer a selling club, the Foxes are a side full of ambition and drive, and the news that they’re set to offer the talented Belgian a £100,000-a-week deal in a bid to retain his services is proof that their upward trajectory shows no signs of levelling off.
Since Rodgers arrived at Leicester, he’s been forced to juggle with certain areas of his squad. For example, the ageing Jamie Vardy has suffered numerous spells on the sidelines, while the Foxes boss has rarely been able to name a consistent centre-back pairing due to injuries and suspensions.
Yet, in the eye of the storm, Tielemans has been a constant, steadily going about his business and churning out consistently brilliant performances.
A more classy operator in the centre of a Premier League side you’re unlikely to meet. The Belgium international’s eye for a pass and ability to execute it is up there with some of the best technicians in England’s top flight, while his reading of the game makes the difficult look, well, bloody easy.
You don’t have to be a footballing genius to recognise that someone of Tielemans’ ability is going to improve most sides, but his influence on Leicester as an outfit can’t be underestimated.
While the Foxes often look to Vardy to stretch sides with his runs in behind, Rodgers isn’t a manager who likes to just play aimless balls over the top in the hope of one of his frontmen latching onto something. There’s a measured and calculated feel to their build-up play, and for players like James Maddison to influence the game they need a lynchpin in the centre of the field who can dictate play – Tielemans is that man.
At just 23 years of age, the midfielder’s best years are still ahead of him – something which seems ludicrous given his current levels of performances – and if Leicester can tie him down to a long-term deal, they’ll undoubtedly continue to grow as a side.
Bravo Foxes. Bravo.