Former Leicester City striker Steve Claridge believes Jamie Vardy made a “mature decision” in rejecting interest from Arsenal to agree a new contract with the Premier League champions.
Arsenal had reportedly triggered an estimated £20million release clause in Vardy’s contract after the England striker’s 24 league goals fired the Foxes to the most stunning of title triumphs.
Vardy also scored in 11 consecutive league games last season, breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record that had stood for more than a decade.
Arsenal finished second to Claudio Ranieri’s side in the table, but the allure of the Emirates Stadium was not enough to attract Vardy, who has instead agreed fresh terms that will keep him at the King Power Stadium for four more years.
Claridge believes Vardy’s upbringing through non-league influenced the decision.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Claridge, Leicester’s goalscoring hero in a Division One play-off and League Cup final, told Omnisport. “I think it’s a mature decision from someone who’s seen the other side.
“He’s been played out of position at times at Leicester and he could have been played out of position at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger does that with strikers.
“He will have thought, ‘Will I get to play in the right position at a side as good as Arsenal? There’s a possibility I’d be a squad player’.
“At Leicester he is the main man. If he was 22 he would have probably gone, but at 29 he’s decided to stay.”
Vardy missed a pre-Euro 2016 friendly to get married and Claridge also suggested a desire for a settled life off the field may have played a role.
“There’s always competition and people who want to take your place,” said the 50-year-old. “He’s not starting again somewhere new, moving to London, when at Leicester he knows what he can give the team.
“You know what you’re going to get at Leicester and he’s settled in the area with his wife and his family. Staying at Leicester will not be an isolated decision, he will have sat and analysed it. Turning down one of top five clubs in the world, Arsenal are an institution, these things have to be given a proper perspective.
“He’s made the right decision and I’m not saying that because I played for Leicester. He’s made the right decision after analysing what might happen if he moved. At this stage in his life, he is an integral part at Leicester.”
Claridge does not believe Leicester can defend their Premier League title, although he backed his old club to have a successful maiden Champions League campaign.
“I said they can win it earlier than most people did but I think it was the perfect storm, they were marvellous and magnificent, but to only have to use that amount of players, it would be virtually impossible to do it again,” said Claridge.
“They can have a wonderful season with Champions League football, I think they’ll finish top 10 and get out of the group stage and they’ll be very happy with that.”
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