One year on from winning the Premier League title, the Foxes are battling to finish in eighth place when they host Tottenham Hotspur at the King Power Stadium on Thursday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Despite Claudio Ranieri being fired midseason with Leicester embroiled in a relegation battle, Vardy reflected on the season heading into the final two games and deems it a success.
“Obviously we won the league but we set ourselves realistic targets. I think if you would have asked anyone this season that we would finish midtable and get to a Champions League quarterfinal, they would have snapped your hands off. It depends and outgoing and incomings during the summer and once all that is sorted there will be targets set and it’s up to the 11 players who are put on the pitch to get the points.”
Vardy certainly had a slow start to the season, like most of his teammates, but the pacey striker has scored 10 goals and added three assists in his last 16 games in all competitions. Before that he had just three goals (all in a 4-2 victory over Manchester City) in 26 appearances for Leicester.
Asked about the future of many of Leicester’s players — Vardy has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid, among others — the England international left things wide-open.
“It’s football. Anything can happen,” Vardy said. “That will be up for the club and the individuals themselves if offers are put in for them or if they wanted to go. If you look around at the lads, the vast majority defo still want to be here and progress how we want to.”
With Kasper Schmeichel, Vardy and Riyad Mahrez lined with moves away from the King Power Stadium this summer, now may be the best time for them to move on. Apart from N'Golo Kante, they all hung around to follow on from the title dream in 2015-16 and they took Leicester on a fairytale run to the last eight of the Champions League.
It would be a shame to see this team broken up this summer, but they may receive offers too good to turn down for Vardy, Mahrez and Schmeichel.
Craig Shakespeare is likely to be given a new contract once this season is over and his first priority should be keeping those three players at Leicester.
Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.
Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.
As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it ispeak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:
“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.
“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”
But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:
Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.
Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.
Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.
In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).
It would be an $82 million move, which is pretty hard to believe given Arsenal splashed less money for a better player in the same role: Alexandre Lacazette. Arsene Wenger has used Lacazette with Olivier Giroud in the preseason, though.
Benzema has also been linked to a new contract at Madrid, and the 29-year-old is a Bernabeu mainstay having posting 181 goals and 103 assists in 365 matches (That’s a standard year’s worth, you know).
Football Italia says AS Roma’s Riyad Mahrez pursuit is far from over, with sporting director Monchi ready to offer a fee close to Leicester City’s $47 million asking price.
The move would be a boon for Roma, who sold Mohamed Salah for at least $7 million more than Leicester’s asking price (The fee could rise to $65 million).
The 25-year-old Salah has 35 goals and 24 assists in 81 Serie A appearances between Roma and Fiorentina, while the 26-year-old Mahrez has 27 and 17 in 103 Premier League starts. The leagues are about the same in average offensive production, but Salah did not star in his 13 Premier League matches, post two goals and two assists.
Lone Premier League contestants Everton controlled proceedings at home but had trouble finding the finishing touch, while Milan and Marseille got goals from summer signings to nab wins of their own in the first legs of the UEFA Europa League’s third qualifying round on Thursday
All but two of the second legs will be held Aug. 3, with Sion-Suduva and AEL Limassol-Austria Wien the previous day.
Everton 1-0 MFK Ruzomberok
For over an hour, Everton had better than 70 percent possession at Goodison Park and nothing to show for it. But Leighton Baines‘ 65th minute rip deflected home to give the Toffees a deserved lead over its Slovakian opposition ahead of next week’s match in Ruzomberok.
Everton finished the match with a 20-8 edge in shots and 72 percent possession.
CSU Craiova 0-1 AC Milan
New Milan man Ricardo Rodriguez bagged a 44th minute free kick to give the free-spending Rossoneri a notable start to life in the UEL.
Marseille 4-2 KV Oostende
Valere Germain’s move from Monaco to Marseille is paying big dividends already, with French striker helping himself to a hat trick at his new home stadium.
UEFA Europa League first legs Mlada Boleslav 2-1 Skenderbeu Korce
Trakai 2-1 FK Shkendija
Olimpia Donetsk 1-1 PAOK
Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-0 Panionios
Utrecht 0-0 Lech Poznan
AIK 1-1 Sporting Braga
PSV Eindhoven 0-1 Osijek
SK Sturm Graz 1-2 Fenerbahce
Suduva 3-0 Sion
Krasnodar 2-1 Lyngby BK
AEK Lamaca 2-0 Dinamo Minsk
Dinamo Bucuresti 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Botev Plovdiv 0-0 Maritimo
Bnei Yehuda 0-2 Zenit St. Petersburg
Astra Giurgiu 0-0 Oleksandriya
Brondby 0-0 Hajduk Split
Arka Gdynia 3-2 Midtjylland
Gent 1-1 Rheindorf Altach
Red Star Belgrade 2-0 Sparta Prague
Panathinaikos 1-0 Gabala
Bordeaux 2-1 Videoton
Aberdeen 2-1 Apollon Limassol
Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 Odd Grenland
Freiburg 1-0 Domzale
Austria Wien 0-0 AEL Limassol