Football Features

How Leicester City replaced their biggest transfer sales, from Mahrez to Maguire

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:30, 4 December 2020

For the fifth consecutive summer, Leicester City have sold a player in excess of £30m.

Ben Chilwell, who graduated from their youth academy, swapped the King Power Stadium for west London after Chelsea paid £50m for his services.

It meant Leicester were understandably on the lookout for a replacement and they got their man when Belgian full-back Timothy Castagne swapped Atalanta for the East Midlands.

None of this is new, however. Since winning an unexpected and historic championship in 2016, the Foxes have become a regular top 10 presence, alerting rivals to the quality of their star players.

Subsequently, this stability makes them a destination for those wanting to light up the Premier League, so with that being said what is their record like of replacing those who have left for mega bucks?

Sold: Ben Chilwell (£50m) | Signed: Timothy Castagne (£18m)

Transfer window: Summer 2020

Profit: £32m

Leicester City stats: 7 league appearances | 1 league goal | 4 league assists

Verdict: Let’s see…

The 24-year-old Belgian international reportedly signed a five-year deal with the Foxes for an initial fee of £18m which could rise to £21.5m, and since linking up with his new team he’s become somewhat of a revelation.

Castagne has firmly established himself as Leicester’s first-choice left-back for the 2020/21 campaign and prior to putting pen to paper he spoke of his excitement about signing for the Premier League club, fulfilling a dream.

“It has always been my dream to play in the Premier League. It was my priority league over other offers,” he told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

“I also like Leicester’s style of play which should suit me. And the feeling with the manager is very good, he contacted me regularly.”

Sold: N’Golo Kanté (£32m) | Signed: Wilfred Ndidi (£17m)

Transfer window: Winter 2017

Profit: £15m

Leicester City stats: 122 league appearances | 6 league goals | 482 league tackles

Verdict: Hit

It was inevitable that, after Claudio Ranieri guided Leicester to Premier League glory against all odds, their title-winning squad was going to be stripped apart. But it wasn’t immediate, as just one major factor in that success left months after lifting the prize – though it couldn’t be anyone more important. N’Golo Kanté was unquestionably the difference-maker in Leicester’s side, his screening of their back-four and relentless ground covering turned him into a defensive midfielder par excellence. Chelsea beat off stiff competition for Kanté’s signature, leaving his former club the unenviable task of replacing him.

To be fair they’ve done a good job. Wilfred Ndidi didn’t arrive that summer but instead left Genk the following January. Since turning up in the Premier League Ndidi developed into an important cog — no player has made more tackles than his 477 since he joined the division — and last season illustrated the Nigerian’s importance. He missed five league games earlier this year due to a troublesome knee injury and Brendan Rodgers’ side in turn ultimately dropped 13 points (three defeats and two draws). Those missteps would come back to bite them as they missed out on securing Champions League football for the 2020/21 season by four points.

Sold: Danny Drinkwater (£35m) | Signed: Adrien Silva (£22m)

Transfer window:

Profit: £12m

Leicester City stats: 14 league appearances | 0 league goals | 1 league assist

Verdict: Miss

A reunion at the Bridge followed in 2017 when Danny Drinkwater followed Kanté to Chelsea but their dynamic midfield partnership was never resurrected as the three-time England international could never find a sure footing at the club. To date he’s made 23 appearances for the Blues, though much of the last few years would be spent on loan at Burnley and then Aston Villa, his successor at Leicester didn’t have it any better.

Things started on the wrong foot when documents relating to Adrien Silva’s transfer from Sporting CP did not reach FIFA until 14 seconds after the transfer deadline, rendering him ineligible for duty until the next window. And when the former Portuguese international became available, it wasn’t as if he was there. Silva played just 21 times across all competitions — only completing the full 90 minutes in 10 of those outings — before Monaco signed him on an 18-month loan in January 2019. He’s since relocated to Sampdoria.

Sold: Riyad Mahrez (£60m) | Signed: James Maddison (£20m)

Transfer window: July 2018

Profit: £40m

Leicester City stats: 76 league appearances | 14 league goals | 10 league assists

Verdict: Hit

It can be considered a success that Leicester kept hold of Riyad Mahrez for as long as they did. A lot has already been discussed regarding private conversations about his departure, with the Algerian forward hinting broken promises were made, but that’s now ancient history. The former PFA Players’ Player of the Year finally got his move to Manchester City, where he continues to have success, and the same can be said for the man who has since filled his Leicester role so beautifully.

Not exactly like-for-like, given their roles are so different, but James Maddison – signed from Norwich City – is equally a special footballer. The elegant midfielder, who’s been favourably compared to Cesc Fabregas at his pomp, makes this current incarnation of Leicester tick. Everything positive Rodgers’ side does seemingly goes through him; in fact only only four other players — Kevin De Bruyne (136), Jack Grealish (91), Trent Alexander-Arnold (87) and Emiliano Buendía (83) — created more chances than him (79) in the Premier League last season.

Sold: Harry Maguire (£80m) | Signed: Çağlar Söyüncü (£13m)

Transfer window: Summer 2018

Profit: £67m

Leicester City stats: 44 league appearances | 1 league goal | 13 league clean sheets

Verdict: Hit

This one temporarily stung, given Harry Maguire’s stature. The former Hull City man went from undesirable to undeniable, his standout performances earned him an England call-up, and no one benefited more from Gareth Southgate’s team run to a semi-final finish at the 2018 World Cup finals than him. Manchester United, still re-building in their post-Ferguson era, made him the most expensive defender ever in 2019 and time remains on his side to whether that price tag is justified. The powers that be would have been prepared for such a departure, which is good long-term thinking, and the season before he left signed Turkish centre-back Çaglar Söyüncü from SC Freiburg.

Söyüncü long been linked with moving to English football with Arsenal, for example, reportedly keeping tabs on him, but joining Leicester has been a smart decision on his part. Söyüncü rarely featured in his debut campaign, only making six league appearances, but that chance of making a breakthrough came when Maguire took off for the Red Devils. Signing an established name to partner Jonny Evans would have no doubt crossed their minds but Rodgers entrusted Söyüncü and the 24-year-old — bar a red card against relegated Bournemouth late into last season — hasn’t let him down.

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