One of the most romantic and lovable football stories in history of the game has seen its fairy tale ending, but Leicester City will be urged to climb down from could nine as soon as possible as the reality is likely to hit them hard in the face.
From zeros to heroes
Leicester City’s astronomic rise to prominence is well documented, but is still very difficult to explain.
Stories like theirs happen once in a blue moon, once in a lifetime and Foxes have been given an opportunity to cherish the amazing success for the rest of their lives.
The “Unglamorous city” in the Midlands has been the talk of football community for more than nine months now, with Leicester City breaching the untouchable pattern of “Big Four” with Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United all looking at their backs for the entire season.
Having finished 14th last year in the Premier League with the average of just 1.08 points per game, this year’s champions overcame the 5,000/1 preseason odds to grab hold of the coveted trophy and once again demonstrate that football in its core is very much alive, and kicking to battle the commercial aspect of our favourite game, which many argue is slowly taking the soul out of football.
Ranieri faces a struggle
Claudio Ranieri’s personal rise back to prominence has gone hand in hand with his club’s success.
The Italian was marginalized following a disappointing spell with Greece and Premier League fans still remembered him for his equally disappointing charge of Chelsea. Tactically inconsistent, Claudio Ranieri decided to change his modus operandi and should be applauded for everything he has done with a batch of anonymous players, former non-league footballers and castaways.
Now as champions, Leicester City have stepped under the spotlight with vultures around the continent are ready to pounce for Foxes’ stars.
It is going to be a long summer of constant phone calls and increased interest for Leicester City’s key players, but Claudio Ranieri has warned Europe’s super clubs to stay away as they do not have enough money to break up his team of champions.
Three players are the most sought-after. Understandably, the PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez is leading the line. Barcelona have already expressed interest in signing the 25-year-old Algerian, who is likely to submit a transfer request himself during summer.
Jamie Vardy is a different type.
From bar brawls to the highest football height, the 29-year-old England international is likely to be wanted solely by domestic competition, as so far no other clubs have dared to ask for his availability.
Claudio Ranieri knows how to keep him around.
“I want to keep all my players, but if anyone shows any indication he might want to go I will be trying to keep him. I will tell them, ‘If you go away you don’t know what might happen. Here you are the king. Stay for one more year, then maybe you can go somewhere else’ ”, Ranieri was quoted.
N’Golo Kante’s story of a calm and quiet young boy who was deemed too fragile to become a professional footballer and discarded by Real Madrid as insufficiently commercial signing is perhaps the most astonishing one.
The French midfielder has been called up to represent France and is likely to become a first team member of the team out to fight for the European title this summer in their homeland at Euro 2016.
Paris Saint-Germain have already contacted the player’s representatives and it will be interesting to see what will happen in the end.
Leicester City are keen to hold on their players and the club has already made plans to offer contract renewals to their first-team stars, while Ranieri is also on the lookout on potential signings.
The Italian manager used the same line-up for most of the season and was lucky his men avoided getting injured as much.
Lack of European football was helpful in a way as it allowed Claudio Ranieri to keep his players fresh and fit. Still, with Champions League football in sight for the Premier League champions, the Italian manager will need to tighten up his roster.
Simone Zaza of Juventus is one of the first players to be linked with Leicester City as potential summer arrival, with Claudio Ranieri keen to make a personal intervention to sign his compatriot.
The 25-year-old striker has been out of favour with the Italian champions for the most part of the season and it appears that the prospect of playing for Premier League champions and in Champions League could be enough of incentive to make Zaza choose Foxes.
Claudio Ranieri is clear about his desires. He wants to bring players that will fit in his system and be a natural addition to the squad as he will not primarily go for big name signings.
Still, before they go out to search for adequate signings, Leicester City will need to finish their ongoing season on a high.
Next up is the celebratory home game against Everton and Foxes stand at 19/20 to emerge victorious and celebrate new three points with their set of fans.
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