Premier League preview 2018/19 - Leicester: Vardy vital to life without Mahrez
Richard Jolly is analysing all 20 teams competing in the Premier League and giving his verdict on how they will fare. Here he looks at how the 2015/16 champions are shaping up
Lowdown: After campaigns of boom and bust, Leicester experienced something in between last season, with a comparatively forgettable year ending in ninth place.
Given the calibre of the players, it felt slightly anticlimactic. They now find themselves in a form of transition, losing Riyad Mahrez and with interest in Kasper Schmeichel and Harry Maguire, two of their other prized assets, but able to attract highly-rated players like Jonny Evans, a potential bargain, and Ricardo Pereira.
Leicester are moving on from their title-winning team, but with the question of what comes next. Getting more from last season’s costly recruits like Adrien Silva and Kelechi Iheanacho would be a start.
Key player: Jamie Vardy – It was not quite as astonishing as his title-winning exploits but Vardy became the first player to score against each of the top six in the same Premier League campaign and ended up with 20 goals. A repeat of that remarkable effort should help Leicester into the top half.
Manager: Claude Puel – History threatened to repeat itself when Puel, fired by Southampton after finishing eighth, came under pressure from Leicester fans. In the end, they finished ninth and he survived, but with some impatient supporters and a trigger-happy board, the Frenchman, who made a terrific start at the club, needs a fine beginning to the season.
Talking point: How will Leicester cope without Riyad Mahrez? Leicester had time to prepare for the departure of the 2015-16 PFA Player of the Year, but it will not be easy to replicate a contribution of 35 goals and 24 assists in three top-flight campaigns.
Getting the highly-rated James Maddison, who was also wanted by Everton and Southampton, offers encouragement, while Demarai Gray and Fousseni Diabate could also be afforded more opportunities.
Both offer pace, but perhaps not Mahrez’s craft. It may be unfair to expect any one player to compensate for the Algerian’s departure.
Updated: August 4, 2018 08:47 AM