The secret weapon who can inspire Leicester City to an immediate Premier League return this season

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The Foxes will hope to bounce back into the Premier League at the first attempt this season.

There can be more than a whiff of misplaced optimism whenever a club suffers relegation from the Premier League. Once the initial disappointment falls away, talk will turn towards ‘positives’ such as more home games, ‘new’ away grounds to visit, a more settled fixture schedule, and getting away from the ego-driven environment of the Premier League.

There is, of course, confidence that being a big fish full of Premier League players instantly makes you favourites to secure an instant return to the top flight but there is often a short, sharp, and painful reality check delivered in a division that cares little for reputation or history.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Getty Images

Many a former Premier League club has experienced it, some have fallen further and suffered consecutive relegations. The path back to the top flight is littered with obstacles and challenges and navigating it can provide plenty of pain before the promotion.

That is the challenge facing Southampton, Leeds United, and Leicester City during the upcoming season, with the latter of that trio suffering relegation just seven years after winning the Premier League and two years after lifting the FA Cup for the first time in their history.

Recovery and rehabilitation is the aim for the Foxes and it should be said the early signs are promising. There have been departures, as expected, with James Maddison and Youri Tielemans returning to the top tier with Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa respectively. Ayoze Perez has joined Real Betis on a free transfer and Caglar Soyuncu joining him in Spain after accepting an offer from Atletico Madrid.

James Maddison of Leicester looks on during the Premier League match between Leicester City  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)James Maddison of Leicester looks on during the Premier League match between Leicester City  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
James Maddison of Leicester looks on during the Premier League match between Leicester City (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Daniel Amartey, Nampalys Mendy, and Ryan Bertrand have departed after their contracts came to an end and on-loan winger Tete has also left the club. There could be one more big departure in the coming days as Newcastle United reportedly close in on the signing of Foxes winger Harvey Barnes in a move that could amount to around £40million.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As it stands, Leicester are around £22million in profit during the transfer window after they secured deals for Wolves and England defender Conor Coady and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Harry Winks, who will be hoping to move on from a desperately disappointing loan spell with Italian club Sampdoria. Manchester City youngster Callum Doyle is believed to be the next through the door as talks over a season-long loan move to the King Power Stadium are said to be progressing well.

Links with the likes of Wolves left-back Ryan Giles and Swansea City striker Joel Piroe give an indication of a desire to bring in players with plenty of Championship experience - but also with a potential to develop with the club if or when promotion back into the Premier League is secured.

Harry Winks playing for Sampdoria. (Photo by Simone Arveda/Getty Images)Harry Winks playing for Sampdoria. (Photo by Simone Arveda/Getty Images)
Harry Winks playing for Sampdoria. (Photo by Simone Arveda/Getty Images)

Although it would be naive to suggest there will not be further departures, it does seem likely new Foxes manager Enzo Maresca will head into the new season with a strong squad that should be more than capable of challenging at the top end of what will be an extremely competitive Championship.

James Justin and Luke Thomas will provide quality and energy from full-back and Coady’s addition will bring leadership and experience in abundance. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall showed plenty of promise in the Premier League and could benefit from the presence of new signing Winks alongside him in midfield.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What the future holds for the striking options in the Foxes squad remains to be seen with Kelechi Iheanacho, Patson Daka, and Jamie Vardy all linked with moves away from the King Power Stadium - and that could be where Maresca’s next port of call in the transfer market lies.

Yet it is the new manager who could provide the biggest positive of the summer so far for the Foxes. A highly talented midfielder during a playing career spent with the likes of Juventus, West Bromwich Albion, and Sevilla, Maresca has honed his coaching talent working on Pep Guardiola’s backroom staff at Manchester City over the last year following an underwhelming stint in charge of Italian club Parma.

Sunderland have reportedly talked to Enzo Maresca following Roy Keane snub.Sunderland have reportedly talked to Enzo Maresca following Roy Keane snub.
Sunderland have reportedly talked to Enzo Maresca following Roy Keane snub.

After overseeing the progress of the likes of Cole Palmer, Romeo Lavia, and James McAtee during a previous spell in charge of a highly-talented City Under-23s side, Maresca has become well-drilled in Guardiola’s high-energy, high-press style of play. Of course, it seems unlikely the new Foxes boss will have the benefit of being able to spend big like his former manager at the Etihad Stadium, but he will be able to freshen up the squad he inherited and implement his own style of play - which will no doubt have more than hint of Pep - during pre-season and beyond.

The first public sighting of a Maresca-led Leicester will come on Saturday when the Foxes visit Northampton Town four days after losing to Peterborough United in a behind-closed-doors friendly that kicked off their preparations for the new Championship season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There is plenty of work to be done on the training pitch and in the transfer market but Maresca’s appointment feels like a real plus point and the early signs of his recruitment have show plenty of promise. There is cause for genuine optimism, rather than the misplaced variety some fallen giants of the past have displayed following a humbling relegation.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.