IT’S difficult to predict how Leicester City will fare this season given how different their previous two Premier League campaigns have been.
Champions in 2015/16. Twelfth in 2016/17. What 2017/18 will bring is anyone’s guess.
Craig Shakespeare is the man in charge of the Foxes and he’ll hope to at least challenge for a Europa League spot.
A couple of shrewd additions have been made with another on the way.
But how will Leicester line-up this season? Our friends at Football Whispers have taken a look.
Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel
The Dane is the Foxes’ undisputed No.1 and that won’t change despite the arrival of Eldin Jakupovic from Hull City.
The 30-year-old was one of the few players whose performances didn’t sharply decline following the club’s shock title win. He made 41 appearances in all competitions and kept 14 clean sheets.
Schmeichel will hope for a better record, and a more compact defence in front of him, this season.
Right-back: Danny Simpson
Simpson was one of the players who failed to maintain the same level of performance he’d managed during the 2015/16 campaign.
The defender’s stats dropped sharply last season as he went from averaging 1.7 tackles, 3.1 interceptions and 0.6 blocks in the Premier League to 1.4 tackles, 1.9 interceptions and 0.3 blocks.
Simpson, however, remains Shakespeare’s first-choice right-back and will be afforded the opportunity to impress in the forthcoming campaign.
Centre-back: Wes Morgan
Leicester’s skipper missed the final two months of the 2016/17 campaign but will start the campaign in the heart of the Foxes’ defence.
Morgan forged a strong partnership with Robert Huth during the title-winning season but they were exposed regularly last term, especially from set-pieces.
Huth is likely to miss the start of the campaign due to injury which will see Morgan paired up with a new defensive partner for the opening weeks of the season.
Centre-back: Harry Maguire
Morgan’s new partner will be £17m summer signing Maguire. The 24-year-old impressed last season for Hull City but couldn’t stop the club from sliding into the Championship.
Several Premier League sides were reportedly chasing Maguire but it was the Foxes who moved quickest to secure his signing.
Strong, quick and comfortable with the ball at his feet, the former England Under-21 international should complement Morgan perfectly in the Leicester back four.
Left-back: Christian Fuchs
The Austrian, who joined Leicester in 2015 from Schalke, has been a first-team regular in his two seasons at the King Power. Fuchs has already racked up 82 appearances for the club and has a Premier League winner’s medal.
The 31-year-old is strong going forward but isn’t always the most reliable defensively. And with youngster Ben Chilwell a year older and more experienced, Fuchs may have a battle on his hands this season to remain in the starting XI.
Right midfielder: Marc Albrighton
Since he joined Leicester on a free transfer in 2015, Albrighton has predominantly operated on the left-flank with Riyad Mahrez preferring to cut in from the right onto his left-foot.
However, with the Algerian likely to depart, the former Aston Villa winger could be set for a change of position. A fine crosser of the ball, deploying Albrighton on the right would allow the wideman to deliver instantly when given the ball.
Far too often on the left he has to cut back onto his strong right foot before crossing, which gives opposition defences an opportunity to set up.
Central midfielder: Vicente Iborra
In what could turn out to be one of the bargains for the summer, the Foxes paid just £10.5m to land Sevilla skipper Iborra.
The 29-year-old midfielder helped Sevilla win three successive Europa League titles after joining them from Levante in 2013 and will be an elegant operator in front of back four.
Iborra, who has never been capped for Spain, is a powerful midfielder but a smooth passer. After a shaky 2016/17 season it will be no surprise to see Danny Drinkwater out of the side following Iborra’s arrival.
Central midfielder: Wilfred Ndidi
The 20-year-old was a revelation after joining Leicester in January from Belgian side Genk and his performances were a big reason as to why the Foxes improved under Shakespeare.
Ndidi was the N’Golo Kante replacement Leicester had been searching for. He is quick across the ground, a strong runner and more than comfortable with the ball at his feet.
The Nigerian international was reportedly a Manchester United transfer target earlier this summer, but he has remained at the King Power and will be key to helping the Foxes mount a push for Europe.
Left midfielder: Demarai Gray
When Mahrez departs, the creative burden will largely fall to the England Under-21 international.
Gray, who has been linked with Liverpool and Tottenham this summer, has been in and out of the Foxes’ starting XI since joining the club for £3.7m in January 2016.
The 2017/18 campaign should give him the chance to establish himself in the side, however. An accomplished dribbler who often cuts in from the left flank, Gray has an abundance of potential and if Shakespeare is able to tap into that, Leicester may not miss Mahrez after all.
Striker: Kelechi Iheanacho
The Nigerian is a fine player and has the potential to be one of the most clinical strikers in the Premier League. But at Manchester City his path is blocked by Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.
So it makes sense for Iheanacho to move away. Leicester are reportedly closing in on a £25m move for the 20-year-old, who averages a goal in the Premier League every 106 minutes.
Striker Jamie Vardy
The England international’s stock was at an all-time high last summer and he even turned down a £20m move to Premier League rivals Arsenal.
But Vardy’s 2016/17 season was not as sparkling as his previous campaign. He did score 13 league goals, a figure not to be sniffed at, but he wasn’t as influential as opposing defences dropped deep and denied his space to run in behind.
However, most of his goals were scored after Shakespeare took charge in February. The Foxes boss knows how to get the best out of Vardy and that will be vital for Leicester this season.