When one thinks of the Premier League, then naturally six teams come into mind. Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and of course Liverpool. These six sides are seen as the ‘big six’ in English football. It could be argued that these clubs are the top six sides by merit. In recent seasons, however, one club has been on a mission to gatecrash the top six-party.
As I am sure you will recall sports fans, when there was serious talk of the Super League, the aforementioned top six were invited to join this breakaway league, but not Leicester, the team who will be featuring prominently in this piece. The Foxes, the 2016 Premier League champions and the current FA cup holders, in recent seasons, in particular, have got into the top six consistently and even nearly getting to the top four positions, only to agonisingly fall away on both occasions.
Two seasons ago, a final day defeat to Manchester United ended their top-four hopes, and just last season a loss to Chelsea and a final day defeat again meant it was again heartbreak for Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester. As tough as those near misses were, the club is in a great position to be consistent and be able to challenge again and again.
The signing of Patson Daka from Salzburg for a fee in the region of £22 million from Red Bull Salzburg and Soumare from Lille for a similar fee, just goes to show how shrewd The Foxes are in the market. The Leicester City model is a model, that other clubs would do well to adapt. I argue that one club that has adhered to this method (not the letter of the law of it) is Aston Villa.
East Midlands side Aston Villa, who at the time of writing have all but sold their talismanic captain Jack Grealish to rivals for Manchester City. Other clubs like Manchester United in transfer windows gone by have paid over the odds for talent. Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been at the helm, a sense of calm has been brought into United’s dealings.
It’s this sense of calm, that Villa have also adopted and I argue this is the Leicester City model. Leicester’s signing of now Manchester United captain Harry Maguire for £17 million from Hull was a steal, especially since Maguire would leave The King Power stadium for an £80 million fee, the £50 million they received for Ben Chilwell and the £65 million for Riyadh Mahrez, shows the decision-makers at boardroom level at Leicester are now mugs.
Aston Villa, although haven’t sold too many players bar the soon to depart Grealish, their incomings have been very good value. Danny Ings £25 million, a proven goalscorer from Southampton is good business. Some may be sceptic, but the signing of Emi Buendia for £40 million is a good one. Leicester want £60 million for James Maddison and I think they will be able to get that from Arsenal too .
This isn’t criticising Leicester, rather it’s praising them as they know how to get the most from their transfers of players to rival clubs. To mention more impressive signings brought in by villa would be the signings of Matt Cash for a steal at £16 million and Ollie Watkins from Brentford for £30 million, this isn’t bad considering Chelsea want £40 million for Tammy Abraham.
The signing of Forest’s Cash at £16 too is good business, the former Wycombe man was seen as one of the best full-backs in the Championship. Villa, although haven’t sold many players at a massive profit bar Grealish, have been brilliant in the transfer market and are attracting some good players like Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey who has been competing in Europe.
Once upon a time, Villa were relegation candidates but with the good work of the scouting team and director of football, Aston Villa have clearly shown there are bargains to be had. AC Milan, Barcelona and Arsenal to name some clubs have been poor in this regard, need to take real note.