In the 2015/16 season, Leicester City pulled off one of the most incredible underdog stories that football has ever seen.
Having narrowly avoided relegation in the previous season, Claudio Ranieri guided the Midlands club to the Premier League title, finishing ten points clear of Arsenal in second.
Five years on, the Foxes are back at the summit of English football, sitting one point ahead of Manchester United at the time of writing. A 2-0 home victory over Chelsea gave them their 12th win of the season at the halfway mark.
This has raised the question: is this current side better than the one that lifted the trophy? Leicester legend Gary Lineker has weighed in with his thoughts, claiming that the present team is superior.
This is a better side with more depth and tactically much more flexible, but the opposition is currently significantly stronger. https://t.co/FKLc4x5VXp
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) January 19, 2021
So, how do the two teams compare? Here’s a starting XI made from Leicester’s current squad, and their title-winning 2015/16 roster.
Kasper Schmeichel (GK) – Nice and easy choice, this one. Schmeichel is one of just seven players from the Foxes’ 15/16 squad to still be at the club, and one of only two who are still regular starters. The Denmark international recently hit 400 appearances for the club.
Timothy Castagne (RB) – In the absence of Ricardo Pereira, new arrival Castagne has stepped in and made an impression, scoring on his debut and assisting two having missed several matches through injury.
While Danny Simpson performed admirably five years ago, he can’t match up to a player of Castagne’s quality.
Wesley Fofana (CB) – Signed from Saint-Etienne in the summer in a deal worth up to €40 million, the youngster has been an instant hit at the King Power Stadium, establishing himself as one of the most promising defenders in the league.
Wes Morgan (CB) – Completing the Wes partnership is title-winning captain Wes Morgan. The Jamaican was rock-solid alongside Robert Huth, conceding just 36 goals all season. Only Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United conceded fewer that campaign.
Christian Fuchs (LB) – James Justin may have been a revelation at left-back this season, but perhaps the naturally left-sided Christian Fuchs is the better option in this case.
The Austrian took a few weeks to break into Ranieri’s starting XI, but once he was in, he never looked like being dropped. He ranked highly in the division’s tackles and interceptions statistics, and recorded four assists throughout the campaign.
N’Golo Kante (CDM) – It feels harsh to leave Wilfred Ndidi out, but Kante simply can’t be overlooked.
Coming for a fee of about £5m that summer, Kante quickly rose to prominence with his energy and ball-winning ability. The little Frenchman was nominated for PFA Player of the Year, and won the award a season later at Chelsea.
Youri Tielemans (CM) – During his time under Brendan Rodgers, the Belgian has gone from FIFA 14 Career Mode legend to one of the league’s brightest midfielders. Good on the ball, composed, and capable of registering goals and assists, the former Monaco man has proven to be a fantastic signing.
James Maddison (CM) – After signing from Norwich for a significant sum, Maddison has had a somewhat mixed time at Leicester. He has often showed flashes of brilliance, but can be prone to inconsistency.
The England international has enjoyed a top-class spell lately, scoring five and assisting two in his last eight outings. If he can keep this up, then he will surely be in Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad.
Riyad Mahrez (RW) – What an absolute joy to watch this man was back in 2015/16.
The Algerian was marvellous in the Foxes’ title-winning campaign. His 17 goals and 11 assists were enough to see him scoop the PFA Player of the Year award.
Jamie Vardy (ST) – Another no brainer, as veteran forward Jamie Vardy makes it into the side. The former non-league man bagged 24 Premier League goals in 2015/16. Five years on, and he has shown no signs of slowing down, winning the Golden Boot a few months ago.
Harvey Barnes (LW) – Mark Albrighton can consider himself unlucky to miss out on this team, given that he is one of the few who still remains at the club from their champions.
However, Harvey Barnes has come to the fore this season with several top-class displays, scoring six goals in his 15 starts, earning an England cap along the way.