May 19, 2024

Even the sweetest champagne may result in a severe hangover, and despite reclaiming Premier League status, Leicester City may soon face the morning after the night before.

A season that potentially end with 100 points and the championship title is cause for great excitement, but the euphoria may not last long.

Enzo Maresca has delivered on the task he accepted last summer in his first managerial role in English football, and the final two games against Preston and Blackburn will be a party atmosphere.

After Leeds’ 4-0 defeat at QPR sealed promotion on Friday, numerous players and members of the Italian coaching staff gathered at Maresca’s house for an impromptu knees-up.

Others gathered to Hamza Choudhury’s residence. They still showed up for training on Saturday, and the squad and coaching staff shared a joyful breakfast before beginning the session.

However, the Foxes face a substantial points loss after being charged with violating expenditure regulations, which may have a huge influence on their Premier League campaign before it even begins.
They had losses of about £90 million in 2022-23. When Leicester’s wage cost matched the club’s revenue but failed to produce Champions League football in 2020 or 2021, the damage was done.

If they had not won promotion this season, they may have faced a similar penalty in the Championship, with disastrous implications.

Leicester have witnessed the financial instability that has overtaken other Midlands clubs such as Derby and West Brom in recent seasons, and their swift return to the top flight should allow them to avoid a similar situation.

To avoid further penalties from the Premier League, players are expected to be moved this summer, with important midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall getting interest from Brighton, Fulham, and Brentford.

He is worth approximately £30 million, and as a homegrown player, the 25-year-old’s transfer price could be added to the balance sheet as pure profit, which is critical for meeting profitability and sustainability criteria. Fellow young products like as Choudhury, Sammy Braybrooke, and Ben Nelson might potentially raise necessary finances if sold, however supporters would be disappointed to see local players depart.

High-earners such as Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi are expected to move on free transfers. Leicester are eager to keep Jannik Vestergaard and Jamie Vardy, but both may have to accept reduced terms — though there is cautious optimism that Vardy, probably the best player in the club’s history, will stay until his 38th birthday.

Vardy has no plans to retire and feels he will be able to play beyond the age of 40. Supporters have planned a tribute to the forward for the club’s final game of the season on May 4 at home against Blackburn.

Despite his declining abilities, Vardy has 18 goals in 35 games this season, and his presence alone makes him worth keeping.

With long-serving Marc Albrighton expected to leave the club this summer, Vardy will be the solitary survivor of the stunning 2016 Premier League title success.

Maresca gets a lot of credit for the campaign. His adherence to ‘the idea’ — the football approach pioneered by the Dutch in the 1970s and carried on by Pep Guardiola — can sound arrogant at times, but Guardiola’s former assistant has not had it easy.

Though Leicester possessed the best players and the highest wage bill in the Championship, the squad’s mentality after being relegated from the Premier League was extremely flaky. Team spirit had dwindled to the point where players spent little time together at the club’s enormous training facility, with social sections left unused.

When Maresca arrived, he told the team to forget their Premier League background. Players who had planned to depart, such as Vestergaard and Ndidi, knocked on Maresca’s door to explain they had changed their minds and wanted to be involved. Both have been critical to this season’s success.

When Leicester wobbled and saw their 14-point lead over third place reduced to one, fans’ dissatisfaction with the languid, micro-managed passing game got louder. In the end, Leeds lost their nerve and form, allowing Leicester to stroll over the finish line – but the real work begins now.

Maresca feels ‘the idea’ will improve Leicester’s ability to manage the Premier League, however with limited purchasing power, he may need to make adjustments. Top-tier attackers will be lining up to take on a defensive line as one-paced as Vestergaard and Wout Faes.

Despite going against Maresca’s beliefs, Leicester are extremely effective on the counter-attack, courtesy to the pace of Stephy Mavididi and Abdul Fatawu, as well as the astute passing of Ricardo Pereira and Harry Winks.


Wilfred Ndidi: Leicester City midfielder out for three months - BBC Sport


Guardiola may have followed a similar style throughout his career, but he has always worked with some of the world’s best players. Most of his colleagues do not have such luxury and must make proper use of their resources. Will Maresca be cute enough to realise this?

Leicester insiders believe that this season’s turmoil will prepare the team well for what lies ahead.

However, as the summer approaches, there are many unknowns that require precise communication. Two years ago, manager Brendan Rodgers believed he would have finances to replenish his squad, only to learn at the start of preseason that they were not available after all.

The tension with the club’s ownership hung over the entire season, and to avoid a repeat, Leicester must be honest with Maresca about finances.

Just as the Italian manager must learn from his mistakes this season, so must the executive team in 2022.

If they do not, the bloom of this season’s accomplishments will quickly fade.

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