The strategy of the east Midlands team was to offer lucrative contracts to players who might otherwise be tempted by more fashionable clubs. This was the price Leicester were prepared to pay to compete at the top end of the Premier League against clubs with much higher revenues.
What could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot. Above all, an outfit which spends such a high proportion of its revenue on wages, without any remedial action, is likely to fall foul of financial fair play. In the case of the EPL, clubs are forbidden to spend more than around £100 million over their revenue in any three-year cycle. At the end of the 2021-2 season, Leicester came dangerously close to breaching that rule. As a result, the squad refresh that Brendan Rodgers had promised failed to materialise, with devastating consequences.
The strategy of paying high wages only became a big problem for the Foxes because it was accompanied by two crucial mistakes. Between 2016 and 2020, Leicester sold one of their top players every season thereby bringing in vital revenue. Some of that money was then reinvested in bringing in promising, but untried and cheaper, young players. The first mistake was the decision – at the end of the 2020-21 season – to buck this trend. The obvious candidate to move on was Youri Tielemans who was a marketable asset and had made it very clear he had no intention of signing a new contract. Not only did his form plummet in his last 18 months with the club but he also then left on a free transfer.