Leicester City fans headed into the 2018-19 season with hopes of qualifying for Europe after the club showed ambition during the summer transfer window.
The 2015-16 Premier League champions fought off competition from Manchester United to keep hold of star centre-back Harry Maguire and added a number of players to their ranks.
Nearly one-third of the way into the current campaign and the £25 million spent on James Maddison from Norwich City appears to be a bargain. The playmaker has been a big part of the Foxes’ attack this season, creating several chances, winning free kick after free kick for his side and is currently the club’s joint-top scorer with three goals this campaign.
From youth to experience, Claude Puel’s side spent just £3.5 million on Jonny Evans from relegated West Bromwich Albion over the summer. The seasoned pro has been a good compliment to Maguire at centre-back when he has been given his chance. If anything, Leicester fans were probably expecting the manager to hand the former Manchester United defender more playing time by now.
Another defender brought in over the summer was Ricardo Pereira. We should use the term ‘defender’ lightly for the Portuguese international though. The 25-year-old loves to bomb on from right-back and does get caught of possession a lot defensively. So much so that Puel has used him as a right winger and right wingback at times.
These new additions plus more added to an already strong Leicester City side that has the likes of Kasper Schmeichel, Jamie Vardy and Wilfried Ndidi on their books. Plus youngsters Ben Chilwell and Demarai Gray are having breakout seasons.
Currently sitting in 10th position and only three points off 6th spot, Leicester have every reason to feel confident for the remainder of the season. They host Southampton in the EFL Cup at the end of the month, though the winner will face Manchester City in the quarter-finals. Winning that competition is not out of the question though.
Leicester had every reason to feel unlucky not to have got anything from their 2-1 defeats by both Manchester United and Liverpool earlier in the season. Though they may be disappointed in their performances at home of late – losing to Everton and then drawing against West Ham and Burnley in their last three at the King Power Stadium.
Likewise, the FA Cup could be a path into Europe next season for the East Midlands club. Depending on the winners of the two domestic cups will determine whether finishing sixth and seventh in the Premier League gets you into Europe.
A top seven finish is certainly possible for Claude Puel’s side. They’re only three points off that right now and we’ve still yet to see the best of Jamie Vardy so far this season. Assuming the former-England international finds his form as the season goes on then Leicester’s results will only improve.
With many expecting Bournemouth and Watford to drop off as the season progresses, Leicester could find themselves battling with Everton and maybe Wolverhampton Wanderers for a top seven finish, and they’ve got to like their chances in those battles.
Europe for Leicester next season? Why not?