With Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, James Maddison and Danny Ward on board, Ben McAleer believes the Foxes could return to the upper echelons of the top-flight once again...
Strong summer signings boost Foxes
Leicester City are quietly, yet effectively, going about their business in the off-season. The Foxes have made some sturdy acquisitions so far this summer, with the club's owners backing Claude Puel in the transfer market after it seemed the Frenchman's stay at the King Power Stadium was coming to a premature end.
Ricardo Pereira was perhaps the standout acquisition, with the Portuguese full-back enjoying a fine campaign for title-winning FC Porto. His arrival sees he and Puel link up once more, with the duo reuniting after spending a season together during their respective stints in Nice.
Highly-rated James Maddison, who created more goalscoring chances (124) than any other player in the Championship last season, followed Pereira to the King Power Stadium, with Leicester beating off interest from Liverpool and Tottenham to land Norwich's 21-year-old.
Jonny Evans is another smart capture by the Foxes, while promising shotstopper Danny Ward has also made the move to Leicester after Liverpool landed Alisson. Of course, there remain question marks over the futures of Kasper Schmeichel and Harry Maguire, two of the club's more effective performers at the World Cup for Denmark and England, respectively, while Leicester need to land a Riyad Mahrez replacement, but Puel is assembling a squad that will only improve.
Leicester have shown positive signs under Puel
The Foxes showed flickers of their potential last season under Puel, even if a sticky patchtowards the end of the campaign threatened to derail the good early work the Frenchman performed at the King Power. In light of that, the backing of the owners in the transfer market is a confidence boost to say the least. What remains key now is how to properly invest the money raised from Mahrez's back into bolstering the squad.
Leicester haven't spent beyond their means, with the club parting ways with upwards of £55m to land Pereira, Maddison, Ward and Evans, and have raised over £60m from the sale of Mahrez. However, the Algerian's departure will significantly impact the Foxes should they fail to reinvest accordingly. Mahrez was one of a handful of players to register double figures for both goals (12) and assists (10) in the Premier League last season, while the Mahrez to Jamie Vardy combination returned seven goals, the best in England's top tier last term.
The 27-year-old's game improved immensely after Puel took charge and while Mahrez went on strike to try to force a January move to Manchester City through, he was far and away the club's best player. Leicester, though, aren't likely to waste time to secure his replacement, and while the club missed out on the signature of Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who on Wednesday evening secured his club-record switch to Brighton, the club undoubtedly has another ace up their sleeve
Indeed, it goes without saying that Leicester have made some smart additions to the squad so far this summer, even without a Mahrez replacement secured just yet. Pereira is a huge upgrade on Danny Simpson and Daniel Amartey at right-back, while Maddison will ease the creative burden on Puel's current attacking options. Evans is a vastly Premier League experienced centre-back and if they can keep Maguire, then Leicester will have a solid partnership at the back.
Demarai Gray has impressed Puel in pre-season, with the Frenchman noting recently: "He likes this space, he can move and give good solutions for the team and it's great for the future." Gray started as a striker in the win over Notts County and scored a decisive goal in the victory, so it could be that the 22-year-old operates in a more advanced position to one he is familiar with or in a number 10 role in a 4-2-3-1 setup, though Maddison is likely to occupy that space behind the forward. Fousseni Diabate also became a prominent figure in the Leicester XI after Puel's appointment and it could prove that the Malian plays more frequently. Between Gray, Maddison and Diabete, it could be that the Foxes already have their Mahrez replacement within the current squad.
Leicester's summmer business warrants praise
The pair, though, may struggle to replicate the partnership between Mahrez and Vardy, which has proven so effective over the years, but all in all, Leicester's summer business should be applauded. Key now will be retaining the services of Schmeichel and Maguire, even with the capture of Ward to, potentially, replace the former. The Foxes have proven they aren't to be pushed around in the transfer market, which could benefit the club.
Provided they can stave off rival clubs from the signature of two of their star players, then the Foxes are again a solid selection for a top-10 finish. However, with a settled management staff and reinforcements at the back already, then Leicester to secure a top-6 finish10.50 could prove good value on the Exchange. They won't have European football to draw their attention from domestic duties and with a relatively easy start to the season, the cash-out option could prove to be a friend rather than a foe here. A settled system and squad will play into their hands and if they can secure a high-profile Mahrez replacement, those odds will only shorten. Given Arsenal and Chelsea's managerial changes, too, Leicester could capitalise once more to upset the top six applecart.