There’s no doubt that Leicester’s City incredible Premier League title win will have a huge impact on the Midlands club.
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The 2015-16 PL champs have seen their global profile skyrocket, they are set for a huge cash windfall and for the first-time in their 132-year history they will play in the UEFA Champions League.
That said, it’s time to dig a little deeper and see exactly how the Foxes are about to be impacted.
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Here’s a look at what them winning the PL will truly mean for next season and beyond.
Champions League balancing act
This is perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects of their success: how can Leicester balance European action? So far this season they’ve played just 41 games in all competitions at this stage of the campaign. They went out early in the the FA Cup and Capital One Cup and have been able to focus on the PL solely since January. That won’t happen next season.
Take, for example, Manchester City who have played 57 games so far this season. City are a team who reached the UCL semifinals, has been battling for the title, won the Capital One Cup and was knocked out in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Manuel Pellegrini, even with his incredible resources of a monster squad, have struggled to balance all four tournaments.
Leicester will have a very good chance of advancing to the Round of 16 in the UCL as they’ll be top seeds in the Group Stage draw. That said, it will certainly cause their small squad plenty of problems as we shouldn’t forget that manager Claudio Ranieri only use 23 players all season on their way to winning the title. That’s fewer than any other PL team during the 2015-16 campaign. Injuries were kind to the Foxes and they shouldn’t expect that next season and they will have to prioritize the PL and Europe over the domestic cups.
Over the next 18 months Leicester is set to make at least $200 million from this successful season. That is just in TV revenue and award money from the PL and UEFA.
Even if they fall of the rails next season and end up finishing towards the bottom of the table, the new three-year TV deal will see the 20th place team in the PL earn more than the champions, Leicester, from this season.
Deloitte have suggested that Leicester could be in line to make $75 million from being in the Champions League group stage alone and if they manage to stay among Europe’s elite then it could generate another $75 million in sponsorship deals over the next two to three years.
Simply put, they will be rolling in cash.
Frugal plans for 2016-17
Now that Leicester know they will have more money to spend, their billionaire Thai owners will be thinking about their ambitions and where they want to take the club. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha bought the Foxes in 2010 for an estimated $60 million.
The owner of the King Power company, a duty free giant of Thailand, has pumped millions into the club but now he has been repaid handsomely. The big thing here is what Ranieri thinks.
Speaking in his first press conference as the manager of the PL champions, he said he doesn’t want big stars to arrive this summer.
“I don’t want big names here. My lads are special. We have to bring some good players but they must have the same spirit,” Ranieri said.
The big boys of the PL will be spending big this summer, though. With Pep Guardiola arriving at Man City, Antonio Conte taking charge at Chelsea and Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp for a whole preseason, the Foxes won’t encounter another season where five of the six perennial giants of English soccer were slumbering.
A perfect storm was created for them to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime achievement. Spending big on new players will safeguard the future of the club but not recruiting heavily will make replicating this season incredibly tough.
Uncertainty over star names at the KP
That’s one of the biggest questions already circulating, just three days after Leicester were confirmed champions.
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We’ve already heard from Riyad Mahrez‘s agent who rates the chances of the PFA Player of the Year staying at Leicester next season as “50/50”. Mahrez was the creative hub of this team, scoring 17 times and creating 11 goals. If he leaves he would fetch a huge sum, perhaps in-excess of $45 million. Not bad for a guy they plucked from France’s second-tier for $800,000 two years ago.
Then there’s N'Golo Kante, the heartbeat of this team in central midfield. He reportedly has a release clause of just under $30 million and given his displays this season he is worth every penny. Kante leads the PL in tackles and interceptions but if he and Mahrez leave, plus Jamie Vardy is tempted elsewhere for a final huge payday, what will Leicester do?
Ranieri has already said they won’t spend big or bring big name players in but the odds of all of these players replicating their form and staying fit for another season are probably larger than the 5000-1 they were to win the title last summer.
Playing style evolution
This is one of those open-ended questions which we will not know the answer to for a while but it is clear that Leicester may have to have some kind of tactical evolution when it comes to how they play.
With long rests between games this season they’ve been able to recover and play pretty much the same way in each game. They have scored the opening goal in games more than any team in the PL this season and also have the most one-goal wins (14). In the second half of the season they’ve been far more defensive, allowing teams to come on to them and having the back four dropping deep which has allowed them to spring counter attacks which Vardy, Mahrez and Shinji Okazaki have taken advantage of.
Analysts have been trying to figure out what Leicester’s stats guys have seen and talk of a “straight line efficiency” model is being whispered here in England. Leicester has figured out a way to get the ball from back to front as quick as possible and play the percentage game. They don’t take chances and Ranieri doesn’t ask his players to do anything they are comfortable doing.
Now that Leicester are no longer the unknown quantity, Ranieri will likely have to set up his team a little differently. If he aims to stick with the same group of players, are they capable of getting the same results with any style other than counter attacks?
The stats suggest they won’t be able to as they have the lowest average possession of any PL champion in the past 10 years (43.2 percent) and they rank 18th in the PL this season in pass completion. They have been set up in a simplistic way and it has paid dividends. Now, it will be interesting to see how other teams adapt to it and if Leicester need to, or will, tweak their style of play.