After the fairy tale of winning the Premier League last season the question that everyone then began to ask was whether or not Leicester City could hold to the players who contributed to their historic title win over the course of the Summer.
With Jamie Vardy turning down a move to Arsenal last month the outlook looked positive for Claudio Ranieri as he began preparing his sides defence of the Premier League title but it seems as if his plans are about to take a turn for the worse.
That’s because French international N’Golo Kante is edging very close to a move to Stamford Bridge after Chelsea saw their £32m bid of Kante accepted while personal terms with the player have now also been agreed.
But it doesn’t just stop there as Riyad Mahrez is set to turn down the offer of a new contract and look to leave The King Power stadium with a move to Spanish champions Barcelona believed to be lined up. To lose 1 of the duo would be unfortunate but to lose the pair will be quite the hammer blow.
For Kante it looks as if the pull of Champions League football will not be enough to keep him in the East Midlands and in this instance money has very much spoken. You can’t blame the player for cashing in but Leicester fans will now doubt feel disappointed that he isn’t staying around for their European adventure.
As I mentioned last week Leicester have already prepared for Kante’s departure with the signing of Nampalys Mendy. Had Kante stayed then Mendy would have been a very useful addition to the squad especially with the extra games that Champions League football brings but now it looks like Mendy will be filling the huge void that Kante leaves.
It would be perhaps harsh to say that money is the sole factor for players leaving Leicester, they will probably feel that the chances of defending their title next season are low so why not bow out on the biggest possible high and not tainting their time with what could be a much tougher campaign next time around.
I don’t think they will come in for too much criticism either as these players are rightfully viewed as heroes by Leicester fans so I don’t think they will be tarred with the tag of mercenaries although to outsiders it may look like that being the case.
Also from the point of view of Leicester owners they may be prepared to offer six figure salaries to players such as Vardy, Kante and Mahrez but what if they than had the nightmare scenario of being relegated. That would then leave some very high earners on the books with now diminished transfer values.
So perhaps it makes sense for Leicester to cash in on these players, if not from a footballing point of view then certainly a financial one. You would imagine that Leicester have anticipated this scenario, it’s only natural that great underdog sides then get picked apart by bigger clubs the following season. The FC Porto Champions League winning side of 2004 is a perfect example of that, after Jose Mourinho departed to Chelsea the side was broken up and was never to be the same again. Perhaps the same will happen to Leicester.
What must Jamie Vardy think, yes he’s been handsomely rewarded for his loyalty after deciding not to move to The Emirates but he might now be thinking that perhaps he has made the wrong decision especially if Riyad Mahrez the man behind so many of Vardy’s 24 Premier League goals last season is to leave as well.
Maybe Vardy feels that is owes a debt of gratitude to Leicester for giving him the opportunity to be the player that he is Today if you wanted to drill down further perhaps he has a greater understanding of club loyalty then opposed to non British based players looking for their next bumper payday.
Leicester’s title winning team of 2015/16 will undoubtedly be remembered as the stuff of legends but just as quick as they burst on to the scene they look set to just as quickly disappear. It was going to be difficult defending that crown but now the task for Claudio Ranieri has got even harder.