Leicester City should not hesitate to sack Claude Puel if poor run continues
According to the Daily Mail, Leicester City manager Claude Puel has lost the trust of his players and colleagues and might face the sack very soon if the club’s lacklustre performances in the Premier League continue in the coming weeks.
After a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace, reports suggested that Puel has cut an isolated figure this season, showing complete disregard for the decision of the fitness and management staff in terms of philosophy, style of play and team selection. The emphatic wins against Chelsea and Manchester City may have softened the blow but the Foxes must make a decision about his long-term future.
Puel emerged as the saviour for the Foxes last season and guided the club to a respectable 9th place finish after taking over the reins from Craig Shakespeare. Leicester were in danger of battling it out for relegation but the Frenchman turned the club’s fortunes around with his tactical masterstroke and strung together some impressive results against the top teams.
However, it has all gone wrong for Puel this season. After going through a rebuilding phase last season, the fans had every reason to expect big things from their team. In fact, the Foxes have enough quality in their ranks to challenge for a Europa League spot.
Much to the disappointment of the fans, Leicester look set for another season of mid-table obscurity under Claude Puel. The Foxes have managed to win only 8 of their first 19 games and have dropped points against the likes of Brighton, Burnley and Fulham. The 1-0 loss against Palace was an ominous sign that the club is not heading in the right direction.
And Puel definitely deserves a fair share of the blame for Leicester’s failures this season. In fact, the decision to leave James Maddison and Marcus Albrighton on the bench for the quarter-final clash against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup was nothing but tactical naivety. The decision to omit Jamie Vardy and first-choice goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel proved to be too costly for the Foxes.
Puel’s team selection in the Premier League should definitely come under scrutiny. Nampalys Mendy and Wilfried Ndidi have been the first-choice midfield pairing for the Foxes but the duo hasn’t done anything spectacular. In fact, both Ndidi and Mendy have been quite inconsistent with their performances.
Surprisingly enough, that hasn’t prompted the manager to field Vicente Iborra and Adrien Silva in the centre of the park. Three-time Europa League winner Iborra hasn’t had much playtime while Euro 2016 winner Silva has started only once in the Premier League.
Another thing that must be discussed here is the impact of Puel’s philosophy on the team. Jamie Vardy is arguably the most important player in the club’s set-up and Leicester as a team rely heavily on him to deliver the goods.
However, Puel’s slow build-up play hasn’t brought the best out of Vardy as the Englishman’s main strength lies in his ability to make quick runs behind the backline and beat the opposition for pace. Vardy has been rendered largely ineffective by Puel’s patient build-up play and Leicester have struggled to turn draws into wins on a consistent basis this season.
Leicester need to play to Vardy’s strength and he continues to be a fan favourite and an indispensable component of their strike force. The Foxes have games coming up against Cardiff City and Everton. These two games might well decide Puel’s future at the club and the Foxes should not hesitate to issue the marching orders if the results do not improve consistently enough soon.
Leicester loaning out this £19m ace should be the way forward for Rodgers and here is why
Leicester City Opinion: Foxes should loan out Caglar Soyuncu in the summer
Fenerbahce already have club-record signing Islam Slimani playing on loan from Leicester and they have now set their sights on out-of-favour centre-back Soyuncu as a replacement for former Liverpool man Martin Skrtel.
Soyuncu joined Leicester last summer from Bundesliga club Freiburg for a hefty £19 million fee but he hasn’t been able to adapt to the Premier League.
The 22-year-old was handed his first-team debut by former manager Claude Puel but he has fallen down the pecking order after making just 5 appearances in the Premier League.
Having at Leicester as a Bundesliga regular and a full international for Turkey, Soyuncu was tipped for great things at the King Power Stadium. The Turk was brought into the team to compete with the ageing duo of Wes Morgan and Jonny Evans for a place alongside Harry Maguire at the heart of the defence.
Soyuncu arrived with the reputation of a solid ball-playing defender but he hasn’t been able to justify those claims with his performances in the Premier League.
Besides misplacing even the simplest of passes, the Turk has let his team down with his lack of composure and has committed fouls in dangerous areas. He has looked like a player who is short of confidence, often scuffing the most mandate clearances and failing to ensure safety.
To sum it up, his displays at the back have been anything but solid and it would be fair to say that he hasn’t played with enough authority to convince the manager to hand him more starts.
Meanwhile, Filip Benkovic, who also arrived at Leicester last summer, has spent a fruitful loan spell at Celtic and one would expect him to challenge for a first-team spot next season once his loan spell comes to an end.
Brendan Rodgers managed to extract the best out of Benkovic at Celtic and there is every chance that the Croatian will be catapulted to the first-team at the King Power Stadium next season.
Benkovic’s return would push Soyuncu further down the pecking order at the club, and as evident from Leicester’s stance of extending Wes Morgan’s contract following Rodgers’ arrival, the Foxes are still going to have their club-captain in the mix for at least another season.
Quite clearly, the Turk’s chances of playing regularly in the Premier League next term look bleak and a loan move to his homeland with Fenerbahce should allow him to work on his flaws and further his development.
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The likes of Morgan and Evans are not going to be around for much longer and a loan move away from the club would not spell the end of Soyuncu’s future by any means.
In fact, a loan move to Fenerbahce would help his regain his confidence and give him a better opportunity of challenging for a first-team place in the foreseeable future. That said, Leicester should not hesitate to ship him out on loan for the benefit of all parties involved.
Leicester reigniting interest in this 25-year-old goal machine would provide Rodgers with ideal backup for Vardy
Leicester City Opinion: Why the Foxes should go all out to sign Roger Assale
Back in April last year, a report from the Daily Mail claimed Leicester City were tracking Young Boys striker Roger Assale ahead of a summer transfer. However, a move never materialised and the Ivorian stayed with Young Boys.
Roger Assale, 25, scored 21 goals and provided 14 assists in 49 games as Young Boys won the title last season. However, his productivity has declined this campaign as the Ivory Coast international has only scored seven goals and supplied six assists in 23 games thus far.
Regardless of his drop in numbers, Leicester City should reignite their interest in Assale and sign him this summer.
The Foxes have an exciting attacking unit, filled with young talents like James Maddison, Demarai Gray and Harvey Barnes. But the club needs a bonafide goal-scorer to replace the ageing Jamie Vardy, who has been a brilliant servant at the King Power Stadium.
Vardy has scored 12 goals this season, racking up a century of goals in the blue jersey of Leicester and already flourishing under new manager, Brendan Rodgers. Yet, Rodgers should plot a replacement for the former England international, who turned 32 earlier in January.
The Foxes need goals and without Vardy they struggle, with Kelechi Iheanacho not living up to the expectations since moving from Manchester City in 2017. Shinji Okazaki will turn 33 next month and may leave the club after his contract expires at the end of this season.
That makes signing a centre-forward so important for the Foxes and Rodgers should plot a summer swoop for Roger Assale.
The Ivorian is the type of player Leicester City desperately is in need of. Assale is not just a fine dribbler; he also happens to be a nippy, technically-gifted and powerful forward with a superb eye for goal. He keeps the ability to race past his opponent in a blink of an eye and score a goal, that’s how quick and decisive he is in the final third.
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The 25-year-old is lethal inside the box, has decent pace and knows how to generate space in the attacking third of the pitch. He will enter his prime in the next year or so and will be a fantastic signing for a team like Leicester.
The acquisition of Assale would undoubtedly bolster the Foxes’ attacking options at the King Power Stadium. Rodgers and the Leicester board should do everything in their power to bring the diminutive Ivorian to the Midlands in the summer as the striker could give Leicester City a boost in challenging the Big Six next season.
These 3 strikers would be perfect to replace Jamie Vardy at Leicester – including this 16-goal star
Leicester City Opinions: 3 realistic successors to Jamie Vardy at Leicester
Leicester City are a club that somehow managed to achieve what was considered to be impossible in the modern era in the presence of monstrous teams like Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City
They won the Premier League against all the odds and looked like they should be champions-elect right from the first fixture of the season.
With sheer hard work and passion for the cause from the men in blue, Claudio Ranieri had got something going at the King Power Stadium.
With some excellent work in midfield from Danny Drinkwater and World Cup winner N’Golo Kante, who are both Chelsea players now, they were able to dominate even teams from the top-6 and thereby hold top spot right until the final day of the season.
The main factor in that season were the crucial goals and most of them were delivered by English forward Jamie Vardy.
The man who rose from playing Sunday league football to the Premier League level in the blink of an eye, Vardy’s exploits for the Foxes that season are part of history.
His goals have kept the Foxes fans going through difficult times after that as well and despite his ripe age of 32, he still delivers on a consistent basis and works his socks off each and every time he steps on the football pitch.
While he is a club legend, at 32, the need to look for alternative is high and this summer could be the perfect time. Here are three players who can readily replace the talismanic forward:
The Cameroonian international forward has become a key player for BSC Young Boys since making the switch from Servette for a meagre sum of under a full million.
The 25-year-old has been in good league form and has picked up 8 goals from his 20 games this term. Tall and well-built, his size certainly doesn’t deter with him mobility and using his long strides, he puts himself about on the pitch and that could just what Leicester need.
The young Scottish international forward has been brilliant up-front for Swansea City this season and he is the club’s top scorer as well. With 16 goals and 4 assists from his 33 appearances, his efficiency certainly doesn’t need to be questioned.
Still only 22, he has the right attributes to make a name for himself in the English game and his movement and positioning in the box will suit the talented midfielders in the Foxes ranks and that’s why this move is assured to be a hit.
The Dutch youth international is a very highly rated PSV academy product who is currently employed by fellow Eredivisie club Heerenveen for who he has scored 14 times this season from 23 appearances.
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With 5 assists to his name as well, at just 21, he has the perfect opportunity to announce himself by making the switch to King Power where he would be able to sit in perfectly given his attacking and finishing capabilities.
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