The icon and the cult hero: Leicester’s last men standing

Leicester City

(EDITOR’S NOTE: IMAGE CONVERTED TO BLACK AND WHITE) Jamie Vardy of Leicester City kisses the Premier League Trophy in 2016 (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers set out his New Year’s resolution pretty clearly: to bring in new faces at left-back, centre-back and the right wing. It took a while, but all three boxes were ticked, leading popular opinion to posit this as evidence of a successful transfer window.

An ideal January it was, albeit slightly tainted by the surprise departure of club vice-captain Marc Albrighton on a five-month loan to fellow midlanders West Bromwich Albion. The club had hoped to bring in Jack Harrison from Leeds United, but his club pulled the plug on the deal at the eleventh hour.

Albrighton’s step down to the Championship leaves City short on wingers, with only new man Tete and Harvey Barnes as naturally-inclined widemen for Rodgers to utilise, but also signals a further detachment from the club’s famous 2016 Premier League title success. There’s now only one man at the club who was there for the entirety of that magnificent campaign, and Jamie Vardy is no longer one of the first names on the team sheet.

Now 36, and a visibly different player to the man who ripped the Premier League up for a number of seasons, City’s No.9 only has Daniel Amartey at the club to reminisce with about that historical achievement. The Ghanaian came to the King Power in January of that season, and has developed something of a cult hero status among a section of the City supporters.

Jonny Evans is nearing a return to full fitness, and the arrival of Harry Souttar alongside Wout Faes means the former Copenhagen man is relegated to at least fourth choice in the centre-half pecking order. The natural with that the Brazilian Tete provides does however mean that a back three system is more viable and therefore it doesn’t automatically register that Amartey’s minutes will suffer.

Many Foxes fans quite rightly look back on the ridiculous and still incomprehensible 15/16 campaign with great fondness, and as time goes on there will eventually be zero remnants of that extraordinary season. This side however shows lots of potential, especially since the three winter arrivals debuted in yesterday’s stunning victory.

In 2023, Leicester City have high-calibre manager, with plenty of players moulded into his philosophy and a magician of a midfielder in James Maddison for the whole system to be built around. Now that Khun Top has effectively pardoned over £150m worth of debt, the future suddenly looks incredibly blighter than the bleak, doom-filled autumn months at the season’s start.