Leicester City experienced the most astonishing of seasons and were crowned Premier League champions. It was a fairytale enjoyed by most people. Who doesn’t love an underdog? Claudio Ranieri has been extremely smart ever since his appointment and isn’t carried away by his side’s unbelievable success. He knows that competition is going to be crazy this season with all the money that will kick in with the new TV deal and the array of managers extraordinaire present. He has been realistic in his aim for a top 10 finish.
Many will hail his pragmatism but is this what could cost the Foxes their star man in Jamie Vardy? According to the Guardian, Jamie Vardy has seen his £20 million release clause triggered by Arsenal. Now Arsenal’s need for a top forward has been highlighted time and again and has been said to be a reason why the club wasn’t able to challenge properly for the title last season. People just don’t think the Frenchman is equipped to be the main man at the club and an upgrade is needed.
News of the same still managed to surprise one and all mainly because this is not Wenger’s approach. A big-name, expensive player who’s on the tail-end of his prime (while Ozil and Sanchez fit the first two categories, they were bought when they were 24 and 25 respectively). Vardy is 29 years old, and Wenger prefers to buy players young, is one for the long term plan. This is the first time in a long time that it is visible Wenger is aiming for short-term success, which makes it easy to believe that Wenger knows the future is now.
It makes sense for Vardy to want to move to the club too. They will be able to afford the salary, they play (consistently) in the Champions League and they can promise Vardy regular game-time as he would only be making a switch if he thinks he is on the pitch enough.
But why should a Premier League winning star move to another club just the season after? Arsenal offer Champions League, but so do Leicester. It is up to Ranieri to convince Vardy that his future should ideally be at the club where he won the Premier League last season.
Ranieri’s pragmatism must be hailed when he said he understood that next season Leicester “have to fight for our position all over”. Could talks like this be the reason Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy — all of whom have been linked with moves away — want to move in the summer? While it will be pleasing to play for the league champions, in the Champions League, the prospect of playing for another side offering the same plus possibly a better shot at another title is more luring.
At the same time, many might think this could be a good sale for Leicester. They will manage to make about £20 million on an aging star, and the sum could rise if another team steps in. Ranieri, focused on building for the future, would anyway be looking at getting in a good striker to cover this season and this would only make his efforts more determined. He will also have more money to make that replacement. Players all over Europe would be glad to be part of the side that surprised the football world last season and has Champions League to offer.
This seems an absolutely bizarre transfer story that doesn’t make sense for a multitude of reasons. Vardy shouldn’t want to leave the side where he broke records and won the unlikely league trophy. Leicester shouldn’t want to sell their star striker (where will the party happen next season?) and Arsenal should certainly not be looking at a short term fix to help them cross the line. However, for a change, this is a transfer that could likely be propitious for all parties involved.