The 2020/21 season proved just how strong and resilient Leicester City’s squad is.
Despite having to deal with a long list of absentees, the Foxes remained in the top four hunt right up until the final day. However, once again they ended up dropping out of the Champions League places at the death.
This summer, as has been the case for some years, Leicester will be more focussed on retaining the core of their squad than spending lavishly, but that does not mean they will not add one or two fresh faces.
When all of these comings and going are finalised, here is one way that Brendan Rodgers’ versatile squad could line up on the first day of the 2021/22 season.
Kasper Schmeichel (GK)
One catastrophic final day blunder aside, Kasper Schmeichel enjoyed another solid season between the sticks for Leicester.
The Dane has now made close to 600 appearances for the Foxes and is due a testimonial. Sadly for frustrated number two Danny Ward, he shows no signs of slowing down next season.
Saying that, with Schmeichel now 34, Leicester will have to start planning for life without the club legend sooner rather than later.
Timothy Castagne (RB)
Timothy Castagne proved to be a smart addition last summer. The Belgian showed remarkable versatility during the Foxes’ injury crises, playing across the back four, as a wing-back and even as a central defender.
He does his best work at right-back, though, comfortably displacing Ricardo Pereira – who was considered one of the best in the world in his position less than a year ago – as first choice.
James Justin will also be keen to nail down a starting spot but as he will be recovering from an ACL problem, Castagne should start the season as Rodgers’ go-to man.
Jonny Evans (CB)
When Jonny Evans was relegated with West Brom in 2018, you could have been forgiven for thinking his career was on the downturn.
However, since signing for Leicester that summer Evans has enjoyed a incredible renaissance, attracting interest from Manchester City at one point. The veteran brings composure to the Foxes’ inexperienced backline, raising the standard of whoever he finds himself partnered with.
Wesley Fofana (CB)
Both Wesley Fofana and Caglar Soyuncu will play a lot of football during 2021/22 campaign, but going into the new season Fofana is just ahead of his teammate.
Still just 20 years old, he enjoyed an accomplished maiden Premier League campaign. Spotless defensively and silky in possession, Fofana is going right to the top. Leicester fans will just be hoping he takes them with him.
Robin Gosens (LB)
Robin Gosens has posted crazy numbers for Atalanta over the past few seasons, grabbing 20 goals in the last two campaigns.
Primarily used as a very advanced wing-back in Gian-Piero Gasperini’s 3-5-2 – a system Rodgers is a fan of – he can also play as a flying full-back.
Gosens is entering the final year of his contract and although Leicester will face staunch competition for his signature, their recruitment team have produced bigger miracles in the past. The biggest test will be convincing the German to give up Champions League football to chance his arm in England. Easier said than done…
Wilfred Ndidi (DM)
Leicester will be hopeful of getting through another transfer window without losing Wilfred Ndidi, who is one of the best defensive midfielders on the planet.
It was business as usual during the 2020/21 season with Ndidi averaging the most tackles per 90 minutes in the Premier League by some margin. Often overlooked is his ability on the ball. He may not be flashy but he rarely surrenders possession which is exactly what the Foxes need.
Youri Tielemans (CM)
Leicester’s player of the season is attracting interest from Liverpool, who see him as the ideal replacement for Gini Wijnaldum.
While Tielemans would no doubt thrive at Anfield, Leicester are desperate to tie him down on a longer term deal. It is not hard to see why either.
The Belgian has hardly missed a game over the past two seasons and can do a little bit of everything. Hopefully the Foxes can convince him to give them one more season to secure the Champions League football he craves.
Boubakary Soumare (CM)
Boubakary Soumare was influential for Ligue 1 winners Lille every time he set foot over the white line last season.
Accomplished at controlling things from deep as well as breaking lines with his explosive dribbling and pinpoint passing, Soumare has enough energy to cover the wide spaces in a diamond midfield.
Regardless of whether this is where Rodgers sees him fitting in, he is set to become the latest success story of Leicester’s incredible recruitment team.
James Maddison (AM)
He may have finished the season with a whimper, surrendering any chance he had of making the England squad in the process, but when he is firing James Maddison is one of the best number tens in the Premier League.
Next season is a big one for Maddison. A strong showing is required to reignite his Three Lions chances as well as get him the big move he no doubt desires.
Jamie Vardy (ST)
Let’s be real. Jamie Vardy’s best days are behind him. The 34-year-old finished the season terribly and in an ideal world Leicester should begin to phase the living legend out of the first team.
There is still something left in the tank, though, and it seems likely that Rodgers will at least begin the term with Vardy in the starting XI. Odsonne Edouard, who the club have been linked with for an eternity, seems like his long term successor and the Celtic man could even provide short term relief if the number nine starts the season slowly.
Kelechi Iheanacho (ST)
Kelechi Iheanacho’s brief emergence as the most lethal striker in Europe was as joyous as it was unexpected.
For some reason Rodgers still does not seem entirely convinced by the former Manchester City man, but his incredible form makes him impossible to ignore.