Claude Puel is a manager who favours young players, which is helpful for our side, who, prior to this season, featured a somewhat ageing defence. Planning for the future has been needed for a while. Bringing in Harry Maguire over the summer was a good step and Ben Chilwell has been given a bigger role this season too.
Chilwell has the potential but needs to show consistency
Chilwell is a player with a huge potential, but consistency is still an issue. While he’s had games that have pushed Christian Fuchs for that left-back position, he’s still having inconsistent games and making mistakes. It’s to be expected for somebody his age, but the more game-time he gets, the more we can iron these out.
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The general approach seems to be that Fuchs takes the spot against the bigger clubs, giving us a more familiar feel to the back-line, with Chilwell able to make his mark against the rest. A contender for man-of-the-match against Sheffield United in the FA Cup, the game showcased Chilwell’s attacking strength. Every time he got forward it was a dangerous move. His crosses into the box look to have improved too, one in particular unfortunate not to result in a goal.
Chilwell’s having a mixed season. For every impressive performance, there’s been a lapse in concentration or an individual error. The England Under-21 player has pace, something we don’t have otherwise in that position, and his understanding with Demarai Gray is also promising. He certainly looks to be the future and Puel should be able to help develop him again.
Wes Morgan’s return gives Leicester cover
Another positive for the Foxes is having Wes Morgan fit again. Our Captain has recovered from a back injury and made it through 90 minutes in the FA Cup. Having relied on rotating the same three centre-backs for several months, it’s a bonus to have the numbers again. Morgan looked to be back to his usual self, already comfortable partnering Maguire. It’s going to take a fair bit more dislodge Aleksandar Dragovic though.
It’s taken a few games for people to notice Dragovic and what he brings. More quietly asserting himself than Maguire, he’s slotted into our back line effortlessly. Composed on the ball and happy to play it out, he looks in control. Making several vital tackles in recent games to stop goal-scoring opportunities, his colleagues seem confident in him, too. He’s made that second centre-back spot his own and Morgan is going to have to work hard to displace him.
Leicester should take Bayern Leverkusen up on the offer to make his loan a permanent move. The £16 million price tag is another bargain. We’ve needed replacements for the ageing Morgan and Robert Huth and he makes a good one, especially if the Foxes face a tough battle to keep Maguire.
A defensively focused transfer window in the summer?
The back line that secured our Premier League title has yet to start together this season. While Kasper Schmeichel remains firmly the number one and Fuchs has played frequently, Danny Simpson, Huth and Morgan have all been out with injuries. Between these and their ages, the defence is changing. It’s not quite the finished article yet, though.
The club will have to fight off various suitors for Maguire. The centre-back has looked more and more the accomplished defender since joining us. Having impressed countless times and looked good for England, it’s not a surprise. While losing him isn’t ideal, it would be hard to deny him that next step up and any sale would give us a lot of money to use to replace him with.
A centre-back has to be on the list for a summer transfer. Ideally, we also need to shop for a right-back, too. Simpson remains our first choice, but whereas on our left we have an up-and-coming full-back, we don’t have a designated option. There’s Daniel Amartey, whom we seem to be pushing to progress in this position, but with the direction the club is heading, we need to invest in a true right-back.
With our current ambitions to get European football, defence is the area where we’ll require the most investment.