Going into the 2015/16 Premier League season, Leicester were chalked up at a huge 5000/1 to win the title by bookmakers around the world. To put their achievement into perspective, the Foxes were a much shorter price with the bookmakers to be relegated from the top flight of English football than they were to finish in the top half of the table at the end of the campaign. However, despite the odds being stacked against them, Claudio Ranieri’s men pulled off one of the biggest fairy tales in the history of professional football.
Leicester were the underdogs going into last season, but it didn’t stop many of their fans from backing their side at 5000/1, leaving the bookmakers with some huge pay-outs on the Foxes. If this was an international competition, they could almost have made it to bgo’s list of top five biggest bets, as one punter placed £20 on Leicester at 5,000/1 before a ball was kicked in the 2015/16, netting just over £100,000 for their stake. That mistake from the layers has resulted in them being much more cautious about Leicester’s chances of defending their title – for example they can be backed at 25/1, at the time of writing, to do so with 118Bet.
It’s been a mixed summer so far for Ranieri. Before Euro 2016 his leading striker Jamie Vardy was linked with a move to Arsenal. That story seemed to drag onto into the European Championship, however, he ended any suggestion he could be set for a move away from the Foxes by signing a four-year contract at the club, where he is thought to now be earning £100,000 per week.
Another of Leicester’s stars last season, Riyad Mahrez, has been subject to a number of transfer rumours. Arsenal and Chelsea are thought to be interested in signing the Algerian international, however, Ranieri has said the player will not be leaving the King Power Stadium this summer.
Unfortunately for Ranieri and Leicester fans, they were unable to keep hold of the services of N’Golo Kanté as the Frenchman made a £32 million move to Chelsea. That comes as a big blow to the Foxes as the 25-year-old played a huge role last season in a defensive midfield role where he protected the back four. Those performances last term earned him a spot in France’s Euro 2016 squad but sadly for Leicester fans it also alerted clubs from all over the world how good a player he is.
One of the key factors to Leicester’s success in the 2016/17 campaign was the resolve and togetherness of the players. This was summed up early in the season when they were 2-0 down to Aston Villa and came back to win 3-2. Ranieri was happy to turn to some of the fringe players in his squad when there were injuries in his starting XI.
Although Leicester are 25/1 with Netbet to defend their title in the 2016/17 campaign, it would be wrong to write them off given how easily they won their trophy last season. Many of their challengers have invested heavily on and off the field though so it could be one of the widest open leagues in a long time. Manchester City are currently the 9/4 favourites to lift the trophy, Manchester United have been cut from 6/1 into 3/1 since José Mourinho took over and Chelsea can be backed at 6/1 to regain their crown.