Ayoze Pérez

Jamie Vardy: ‘I’m playing the best that I ever have’

1 Comment

If you thought you had seen the best of Jamie Vardy, you are dead wrong.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sure, Vardy has put up sensational numbers throughout his peculiar career. A 31-goal season with Fleetwood Town during the 2011-2012 campaign of England’s fifth-tier, which is his most productive to date. Then there’s Leicester City’s historic title-winning season in 2015-2016, one that saw Vardy make a name for himself world wide, scoring 24 goals in 36 appearances.

Interestingly enough, however, we are finally witnessing the best of Vardy, at least according to the goalscorer himself. At 32 years of age, he leads the Premier League with 11 goals after 12 matches. From the BBC:

“I’m playing probably the best that I ever have but there’s a long way to go,” Vardy said following Leicester’s 2-0 win over a struggling Arsenal. “I’m always willing to learn, there’s new tactics with the gaffer and I’m always trying to give 100% and it’s paying dividends for myself.”

In their first, full season under experienced manager Brendan Rodgers, the Foxes are currently second in the table, five points behind unbeaten Liverpool. Rodgers, too, is a believer that his frenetic, yet skilled forward is currently experiencing a season to remember. To be exact, the 46-year-old is convinced that Vardy is in the elite echelon of strikers the world has to offer.

“It’s firstly about giving him confidence,” Rodgers said following his club’s eighth win of the season. “He is up there with the very, very top strikers in European football with what he brings to a team, his pressing.”

“We’ve allowed him to do essentially what he wants to do – he’s so honest, he’d press he whole back four if he could,” he added. “How we play, being aggressive and playing quickly obviously suits him. But his finishing ability, how clinical he is, is absolutely phenomenal. That’s a big testament to his concentration – when the opportunities come he’s always ready.”

Against Arsenal on Saturday, Vardy scored and assisted the second goal of the game. Coming up to the one-third mark of the season, Leicester pride themselves on an exceedingly fluid attack, built around James Maddison, Youri Tielemans, Ayoze Pérez, Harvey Barnes and spearheaded by Vardy himself.

With 29 goals scored throughout 12 games, only Manchester City (34) has tallied more this season. The call from the dugout for the Foxes’ attacking line to press and play to pass is paying dividends.

“The creativity we’ve got in the side is going to benefit the team massively,” added Vardy. “We’ve got to take each game as they come. It’s still early on in the season – it’s a long slog.”

“There’s a lot of momentum round the club and everyone’s enjoying themselves. That enjoyment comes with winning.”

The best of Vardy is happening now, and you don’t want to miss it.

Rodgers: 9 goals is ‘incredible’

Leave a comment

Brendan Rodgers was criticized by some after leaving Celtic midseason for Leicester City. On Friday, he proved pretty much all the doubters that he was right for the job, and may actually be the best UK-born coach in the Premier League.

Rodgers team was prepared and confident, and Leicester City took Southampton to the sword with a 9-0 win on the road. It was the performance of the season, bigger than any Man City win or even Wolverhampton and Norwich’s wins over Man City, as the 9-0 result set Premier League records.

“[It was] a brilliant performance,” Rodgers told LCFC TV. “We obviously started the game very well, went in front, and they obviously had the man sent off, but how we worked that, in terms of how to play… we speak about that, in terms of strategy. If we ever go down to 10 men, how the game looks and how it works, and we’ve seen that away at Burnley at the end of last season and then we’ve had it twice now this season and we’ve capitalized on it very well.

“It’s a mentality to playing against 10 men, but also it’s a tactical idea and the players performed and executed that to a really, really high level. We looked a very good side, [a] very composed side tonight, and a very exciting team. To score nine goals in a Premier League game is incredible.”

Its a well deserved performance for Leicester City, a team that has been building and growing all season with a great mix of youth – like Ben Chilwell and Harvey Barnes, as well as experience – Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy.

Some Leicester City players reacted to the win after the game on social media.

View this post on Instagram

9-0. Ohhh what a nighttt🙌🏼💙

A post shared by James Maddison (@madders) on

At the half: Leicester scores 5 on ten-man Southampton

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Playing on the road, in rainy, windy conditions, appears to be no problem for Brendan Rodgers and Leicester City.

Through the first 20 minutes of its match against Southampton, Leicester City has absolutely mauled the hosts, scoring three times on Friday at St. Mary’s Stadium. To add insult to injury, Southampton left back Ryan Bertrand was shown a straight red card for a high boot into the shin of Leicester City’s Ayoze Perez. The tackle wasn’t noticed in the moment, but VAR caught it and referee Andre Mariner sent Bertrand for an early shower.

[WATCH LIVE: Leicester City v. Southampton]

Later in the first half, Leicester City scored again as Perez fired a strike in to add to Southampton’s misery. To add the icing on Leicester City’s cake, Jamie Vardy scored just a minute before halftime.

Heres a look at all the first half highlights, including goals from Ben Chilwell, Youri Tielemans, and Ayoze Perez, along with the red card.

 

Leicester splash record $38 million for Ayoze Perez

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Leicester City have spent big to sign Ayoze Perez from Newcastle United.

The Spanish striker, 25, has joined the Foxes for a club-record $38 million, with Perez signing a four-year contract at the King Power Stadium.

Perez has spent the past five seasons at Newcastle and scored 48 goals in 192 appearances in all competitions for the Magpies.

Speaking about his move to Leicester, Perez is excited to help Brendan Rodgers push the Foxes towards European qualification.

“I’m very happy and very pleased. I’m very proud to be part of the Leicester family and I can’t wait to get started,” Perez said. “The Club want to keep growing as much as they can and that’s something I like. I spoke with the manager and that was important. That made me feel very comfortable about the decision to come here.”

Perez has been far from prolific during his time on Tyneside, but he did score 12 times in the Premier League last season which is his best-ever return. He has also scored the winner in each of his last two visits to Leicester as a Newcastle player, so maybe that also had something to do with this…

Rodgers said Perez is “quick, has a good eye for goal and he’s experienced in the Premier League” and added that he compliments Leicester’s other attackers well.

Where does he fit into this Leicester side? It looks like he is the long-term replacement for Jamie Vardy, who is now 32 years old.

The Foxes will rarely play with two up front as their wide midfielders Demarai Gray, Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and Marc Albrighton offer plenty of ammunition to the central striker.  Perez may have to bide his time to start in this Leicester attack, but this is a heck of a lot of money for Leicester to spend to just have a nice option on the bench, especially with the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho and Islam Slimani still on the books.

It is likely the latter two strikers will leave this summer, and Perez is certainly more similar to Vardy than both of them. This is one of those transfers that initially makes you scratch your head, but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense.

If Perez was capable of scoring 10-12 goals per season in a team set up to defend first like Newcastle, he should be handed more chances at an attack-minded outfit like Leicester.

With Youri Tielemans lined up to arrive permanently and young right back James Justin signed, Rodgers’ revolution at Leicester is well and truly underway. After the way the Foxes finished last season, a push for seventh place is a very real possibility this season.

As for Perez’s former team Newcastle, his departure is another hammer blow for the Magpies who lost manager Rafael Benitez last week.

Transfer wrap: Leicester buys $38M Newcastle star; Latest on Maguire

Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The most amazing part of Tuesday’s transfer buzz was not that Newcastle United had sold long-time attacker Ayoze Perez, rather the price tag.

Whispered as a $22 million target for clubs in his native Spain for some time, Perez has reportedly been sold within the Premier League for a whopping $37 million.

Is Leicester already spending that Harry Maguire money?

[ USWNT: Player ratings | 3 things ]

Assuming a passed physical, the Magpies will add that to their new coach’s transfer kitty (allegedly).

Perez, 25, would finish his time at Newcastle with 195 appearances. He led the team in scoring last season with 12 goals, his best league performance with the Magpies in any division.

We know transfer fees are going up every year, but wow.

  • Speaking of bonkers fees, this one was suspected but still eyebrow-raising: Spurs won the rights to Tanguy Ndombele of Lyon with a record $82 million purchase which slaughters the $45 million the North London side spent on Davinson Sanchez.
  • Spurs also added Leeds United winger Jack Clarke for $11 million, and will loan him back for the 2019-20 season.
  • Sky Sports says Manchester City is willing to match Manchester United’s $90 million bid for Leicester’s Harry Maguire, a bid which was reportedly denied. Maguire has four years remaining on a rich contract, but reports continue to mention his willingness to leave for UEFA Champions League pastures despite plenty of love for the King Power Stadium club.