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Leicester City 2022-23 season preview - prediction, summer signings, star player

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look ahead to Leicester City's 2022-23 campaign, including predictions, summer signings and their star player.

As many as six seasons have come and gone since Leicester City achieved one of the most memorable feats in sport, winning the Premier League title at odds of 5,000/1.

Since that triumph, a total of five top-10 finishes have been recorded, the only time that they finished lower than ninth spot coming when they were attempting to progress as far as possible in the Champions League.

While it would be premature to say that those days appear long gone, two near misses at returning to European football's top table were followed by their worst season, points-wise, since 2017-18.

Leicester City's Marc Albrighton celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 10, 2022© Reuters

Brendan Rodgers has also found himself in a position where he has been hindered in the transfer market, preventing him from making his desired changes to a squad which seemingly requires fresh impetus if they are to remain contenders for the top seven.

There is still time for the Northern Irishman to achieve his objectives, but there will be growing understanding at the King Power Stadium that their manager has not been blessed with the ideal circumstances heading into the next campaign.

Ahead of their ninth successive year in the Premier League, Sports Mole takes a look at the Foxes' upcoming campaign.


FIXTURES

Leicester get their campaign underway with a home fixture against Brentford, a favourable start ahead of games against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United by September 1.

Tottenham Hotspur follow in the middle of the month, and Rodgers will be targeting a large haul of points up until the end of October, when they face Manchester City.

Leicester City's James Maddison celebrates scoring a goal with teammates on February 24, 2022© Reuters

As it stands, a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool is scheduled for New Year's Eve, and a testing triple-header with Spurs, Man United and Arsenal lies in wait in February.

From March onwards, Leicester only have only fixture away to a big-six side - that club being Man City in the middle of April - with the season ending with a home encounter against West Ham United.

> Click here to see all of Leicester's 2022-23 fixtures


SUMMER SIGNINGS

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers reacts on April 7, 2022© Reuters

In
None yet

Out
Vontae Daley-Campbell (free, Cardiff City)
Eldin Jakupovic (released)
Tyrese Shade (free, Swindon Town)
Jacob Wakeling (free, Swindon Town)
Khanya Leshabela (loan, Crewe Alexandra)
Ben Nelson (loan, Rochdale)

Total spent to date: £0m
Total received to date: £0m

Net transfer balance: £0m


SQUAD

Leicester City's Wesley Fofana celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates and manager Brendan Rodgers on March 17, 2022© Reuters

Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Ward

Defenders: Wesley Fofana, Caglar Soyuncu, Jannik Vestergaard, Daniel Amartey, Jonny Evans, Luke Thomas, Ryan Bertrand, Timothy Castagne, James Justin, Ricardo Pereira

Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi, Boubakary Soumare, Nampalys Mendy, Youri Tielemans, Dennis Praet, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Hamza Choudhury, Marc Albrighton, Harvey Barnes, James Maddison

Forwards: Ayoze Perez, Kelechi Iheanacho, Patson Daka, Jamie Vardy


STRONGEST XI

Potential Leicester City XI for 2022-23.


STAR PLAYER - Wesley Fofana

 Leicester City's Wesley Fofana in action with Chelsea's Timo Werner on May 18, 2021© Reuters

When Wesley Fofana broke his leg before the start of last season, Rodgers would have known the repercussions of losing his best defender for the majority of the campaign. Leicester can hardly be called a one-man team given the quality that they have in many areas of the pitch, but it was proven that they simply could not cope without the presence of the Frenchman.

Even on the back of only playing for a couple of months in 2021-22, the 21-year-old is still attracting significant interest from Chelsea, who may decide that they are willing to stump up £70m to add to their defensive ranks.

Nevertheless, the fact that Rodgers has now publicly stated that Fofana is "not for sale" highlights the importance of the player, even if Leicester could do with generating transfer funds to freshen up their squad.

If Leicester can keep fellow defender James Justin fit alongside Fofana, it will make a huge difference to this team, and it was no coincidence that they enjoyed their best period of the season when the pair made their respective returns during the run-in.


MANAGER - Brendan Rodgers

 Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers acknowledges fans after the match on April 10, 2022© Reuters

When Leicester were struggling during the first half of last season, Rodgers naturally came under pressure, the theory being that he had taken this team as far as he could on the back of their famous FA Cup triumph in 2021 and successive near misses with regards to Champions League qualification.

Although there was justification with some of the reasons why Rodgers should have been removed from his position at the time, there were also plenty of reasons why he deserved to stay, and he will be motivated to further show that he remains one of their best British managers in the game.

It goes under the radar that Rodgers has a 47.9% win rate from 169 games at Leicester, an impressive feat given the club's size and considering that he only had a 50% win rate at Liverpool over a similar amount of fixtures. While the circumstances were different, the point remains that he is a good fit for a club such as the Foxes.

Still, as we will explain shortly, ending last season in eighth spot felt a bit undeserved, and the onus is on Leicester to be far more convincing and consistent this time around.


LAST SEASON - Eighth

Leicester started last season in perfect fashion, beating Manchester City in the Community Shield and edging out rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers on the opening weekend. However, that was the last time that they recorded back-to-back victories until the middle of October, and it summed up their season as a whole.

Rodgers witnessed his team win just seven of their opening 18 Premier League fixtures, and their inconsistencies occurred in Europe, too, as they failed to progress from a Europa League group containing Napoli, Legia Warsaw and Spartak Moscow.

Over Christmas and during the early weeks of 2022, Leicester won just one of their six Premier League matches - that victory being over Liverpool - and it came ahead of participating in the Europa Conference League, a competition that Rodgers suggested did not capture his imagination.

Leicester City's Timothy Castagne celebrates scoring their first goal with Youri Tielemans and Nampalys Mendy on March 20, 2022© Reuters

However, that tournament - and Fofana's return - acted as the catalyst for better things to come. Leicester recorded 25 points from their final 15 games in the Premier League, proving enough to snatch eighth position from long-term occupiers Wolves.

In Europe, Leicester progressed past Randers, Rennes and PSV Eindhoven to set up a Europa Conference League semi-final with Roma, the East Midlands outfit suddenly having a chance to lift their first-ever European trophy.

That bid ultimately ended in failure as Roma prevailed 2-1 on aggregate, but the run was necessarily to instill some confidence and belief back into this squad.


PREDICTION

Leicester City's Wesley Fofana celebrates scoring their first goal with manager Brendan Rodgers on March 17, 2022© Reuters

Although Leicester can still boast a wide array of quality players, there is a feeling that this squad required some fresh faces through the door. That may eventually prove to be the case, but there is a risk of things remaining stale during the opening weeks.

Depending on your perspective, keeping Youri Tielemans for the final year of his contract would mean that Leicester have more quality in the middle of the pitch than they were perhaps expecting, and the Belgian has a big part to play if he is still at the King Power Stadium come the start of September.

On the flip side, Tielemans is currently one of 10 players who are currently due to become free agents in less than 12 months time, and you have to wonder whether that can be beneficial going forward.

Still, even if this Leicester squad remains the same and Fofana stays a Fox and fit, the club's supporters should still be expecting a top-half finish as an absolute minimum.

VERDICT: 10th


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 Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers acknowledges fans after the match on April 10, 2022
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