Leicester season preview: Astute summer signings can make up for Riyad Mahrez absence
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 06/08/18 12:16pm
In our Leicester season preview, we look at how life after Riyad Mahrez will affect the Foxes this season...
Last season: 9th
Title odds: 250/1
Relegation odds: 11/1
Major ins: Jonny Evans, James Maddison, Ricardo Pereira, Danny Ward, Rachid Ghezzal
Major outs: Ben Hamer, Robert Huth, Riyad Mahrez, Ahmed Musa
Key player: Jamie Vardy
Leicester City will find life after Riyad Mahrez tough, as any team would losing one of the Premier League's best midfielders, but a strong summer in the transfer market means they can keep looking forward.
Bringing in Jonny Evans for a bargain price of £3m, when Manchester City had an £18m bid rejected a year ago, looks a smart piece of business. Harry Maguire is also likely to return in confident mood after his performances at the World Cup.
If James Maddison hits the ground running, and judging by his performances at Norwich last season there's no reason why he shouldn't, then he could be a superb addition in midfield, ahead of the solid Wilfried Ndidi providing the mettle in the middle.
Of course, the absence of Mahrez will hit the club's creativity to some degree - and it could be here that Claude Puel, often criticised for his unspectacular style of football in the past, earns his money.
He has defied some of those critics since arriving at Leicester, leading a team which scored only six goals fewer than Chelsea, but he was rumoured to be close to the sack at times last season when the Foxes nosedived on a run of two wins from 12 games after Christmas and when they suffered another collapse at the end of the season.
With the Premier League's mid-table improving and rivals like West Ham spending big money in the summer, a run like that again may leave Leicester off the pace for the European place they were chasing last season.
But if their summer signings fulfil their potential the Foxes could enjoy a season without a managerial sacking for the first time since they won the Premier League in 2016.
Paul Merson's verdict
Leicester are always going to upset teams. Obviously, you look back at when they won the Premier League, but realistically they're a mid-table team. If I was Leicester, I'd be looking at one of the cups and thinking they could win one of them.
They're decent when they get their best team out, and they could do something, and maybe they could get seventh and go for Europe. They're one of those teams like Everton and West Ham who are fighting for seventh, but you look at it sometimes and think is the Europa League a hindrance? Look at Burnley - extra-time last week and now they've got to play again.