After 10 seasons outside of the top flight, Leicester City will return to the Premier League for the first time since the 2003-2004 season. Backed by new owners, and playing in the recently renamed King Power stadium, Leicester City defied all expectations and convincingly came in 1st place in the Skybet Championship, 102 points, 9 points above second place Burnley. The Foxes had a quiet transfer window, and this worries many observer, who claim that their squad is not up to Premier League quality. As a newly promoted team, Leicester City is interesting to watch.
Transfers In (six, totaling £8 million):
Leonardo Ulloa (£8 million):
Ulloa is an Argentine striker bought for £8 million from Brighton & Hove Albion, where he scored 23 goals in 50 apps. He has had playing experience in the Argentine league and the Spanish Second Division. The 28 year old is signed on a 4 year contract, and is Leicester City’s record signing. He should be a boost to Leicester City’s young attack, especially considering that he has played against and scored on Premier League sides like Arsenal in cup competitions.
Ben Hamer (Free):
Ex-Charlton Athletic goalkeeper with 37 apps last season, Leicester City signed him as a free agent. The 26 year old goalkeeper Hamer probably will slot in as a decent rotation option, possibly starting cup games. Danish international Kasper Schmeichel has the starting job locked down, Hamer is second on the depth chart. Very good free transfer, Hamer has the potential to be a decent backup in the Premier League.
Marc Albrighton (free):
24 year old Ex-Aston Villa winger, Leicester City signed him as a free agent. Splitting time between Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa, Albrighton had a total of 25 apps last season. Not the best goal scorer, Albrighton scored no goals last season, so he will probably slot in as a backup. His Premier League experience is very welcomed on a team with little top flight experience.
Matthew Upson (free):
35 year old center back who previously played at Brighton & Hove Albion, Upson is an experienced veteran who has played for 9 clubs in his career, Leicester City will be his 10th. Upson has Premier League experience, and World Cup experience, scoring England’s only goal against the Germans in 2010. His advancing age might been an issue, but Upson is a very welcomed veteran who can bring experience to this relatively inexperienced squad.
Other transfers: Jack Barmby (Manchester United), Louis Rowley (Manchester United). Two Manchester United youngsters on free transfers. Low risk purchases mostly for a bit of squad depth and to fill out the reserve teams.
30 year old Gallagher has difficulty cracking the first team at the Championship level, and is currently loaned out to Preston North End. Probably not going to make an impact at Leicester City, most likely released at the end of this season.
Sean St Ledger:
Injured almost immediately after opening day last season (total of 1 league app), released and is currently a free agent.
Another veteran who is having difficulty cracking the first team, Whitbread was released and is currently signed to Derby County.
- Flexibility – Leicester City’s owners have shown a strong willingness to spend. Their lack of movement shows that Leicester City has faith in their existing squad. Not a bad choice in my opinion, but whether this faith is misplaced or not still remains to be seen. However, they do have versatility, their ownership group has shown a strong willingness to spend. If Leicester City is struggling in December, expect to see them splurge into their war chest for a few impact signings in the winter transfer window.
- Inexperience – Leicester City last played in the Premier League 10 seasons ago, and almost none of their players have top flight experience. We don’t know how well they would respond to the significantly tougher competition. Confidence could be a problem, as Leicester City was the overwhelming favorite for almost all their games last season, whether they can change their mindset to being underdogs this season remains to be seen, especially considering their relatively young squad.
Predicted Finish: 15th
A squad that crushed the championship will now be playing in the Premier League. How Leicester City would finish is an interesting question, how you project them to finish is almost completely dependent on how big you believe the gap between the Championship and Premier League is. Overall, Leicester City did not alter the team too much, most of their signing free agents, either to fill in a few holes on the team or to bolster the reserves. No important players were sold, the departures were inconsequential free transfers. Only 4 of the last 15 promoted teams got relegated immediately, and considering how well Leicester played in the Championship, I’m willing to bet that they would survive to play another day.