But now there is only a matter of 20 or so days before the season starts and Leicester have bought no one.
Now although the media only touches on this occasionally, everyone in football knows what is going on – just as they did when they were watching Leicester ratchet up more penalties than ever before and get in more tackles without fouls being called than ever before. And it is the “everyone knowing” thing that is making Leicester come unstuck.
For example, it is widely circulated that Arsenal would like Youri Tielemans. But the story is put out that the problem in the transfer is Arsenal’s: Arsenal have too many players and have to sell before they can buy.
It’s a clever bit of propaganda but quite untrue – as our analysis of next season’s 25 players at Arsenal has shown. We’re very comfortably on track, and could readily bring in another player not least with players going on loan if needed. Besides the treatment of Ozil and Aubameyang has shown Arsenal are not to be messed with these days. The club would sooner freeze out a player than be held to ransom: a player being difficult about leaving knows what the alternative can be.
But Leicester are not in this position and the big six or seven (inc Newcastle) know it. They need to sell, and don’t have the resources nor the balance of the FFP books which allows them to buy without selling. Worse for Leicester, Tielemans knows what’s what as well. He wants to play in Europe but Leicester have shown that they don’t have the resources to mount a constant challenge. Since winning the league they have come 12th, 9th, 9th, 5th, 5th, 8th. That doesn’t look like the basis of a rebuild but a decline. Meanwhile Schmeichel, Boubakary, Soumare, Jannik Vestergaard and Ryan Bertrand could all go – but all the buyers are holding back, sensing Leicester having a real need to sell.
And because no one is bidding Leicester are starting to offer some of the players they would like to keep, just to get the money in. And still the rich clubs won’t break ranks. For they know Leicester don’t have the resources, and holding back will mean lower prices, or even financial difficulty for the club.
The memory of the way Leicester manipulated the system of tackles, cards and yellow cards is still there, and it looks like the rest of the clubs really are not going to help them, now they have fallen into a bit of a hole.
- Leicester’s strange tackle / foul / yellow figures change as they slip down the league
- New fouls and yellow card data suggest refs are reacting to club ploys.
- “How a club can commit the most fouls, but get the fewest yellow cards”
- What is the relationship between fouls, tackles and yellow cards in the league?