Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez — the Leicester City duo sit atop the English Premier League score charts and sit atop most big clubs wish lists heading in to the January transfer window. Easy call — sell high if you’re the Foxes.
At least that seems to be the logic, and in most years a surprising team fighting towards the top of the table would be crazy not to sell. However, this isn’t most years and Leicester City aren’t most teams.
With Boxing Day fixtures and a congested set of matches coming up, the Foxes improbably continue to sit atop of the EPL table. Currently, Leicester City pace the EPL with 38 points and are two points clear of Arsenal for the title.
More importantly, this is a side doing it with just one loss through the first 17 matches of the season — yes, just ONE loss.
That’s no accident, and a lot of it has to do with the timely scoring of Vardy and Mahrez, who have 15 and 13 goals respectively on the season.
Yet, the assumption remains that the club will be sellers come January. There’s talk of a £30 million move for Vardy by Chelsea under new boss Gus Hiddink and of Chelsea buying crazy names like Alex Teixeira, John Stones and Marquinhos too.
How could Leicester City pass up that kind of money for their in-form 28-year-0ld striker? Or so the logic goes.
Yet, that would require a suspension of the reality that Leicester City are atop of the league and haven’t fallen off that perch once there. Some in the English media still operate as if the Foxes are just some mid-tier club with a hot player or two worth cashing in on.
It also requires us to believe the season is worth giving up on and that there are other options for the club currently atop the table.
Would one apply the same logic of selling high when “there’s no chance” to a Tottenham, Manchester United or even a West Ham United? No, instead most would be encouraging moves to strengthen the squad for a run at the title and at least a Champions League place.
So, why would it be any different for Leicester City?
With the Foxes at the top of the table, shouldn’t they be looking to add to their squad and perhaps look to strengthen a defense that has given up 24 goals this season?
Wouldn’t Champions League money along with the riches of the new TV deals struck by the EPL be worth resisting temptation in January?
Besides, selling a guy like Vardy for £30 million in January could be a pitance compared to selling a Vardy that just led the Foxes to an EPL title or Champions League soccer come the summer transfer window.
Suddenly that £30 million looks more like a bargain than selling high for a player like Vardy. Put that fee together with the increased revenue streams and suddenly Leicester City has the money to be a serious squad all over the pitch, instead of one that did it with the second smallest wage bill in the EPL.
There’s also the fact that if Leicester City are going to truly hang around for a title or Champions League run they’ll need Vardy and Mahrez in the biggest way this January. Let’s not forget there are matchups with Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham all within the first 13 days of the new year.
How would selling Vardy or Mahrez do them any good in those top-level fixtures?
Perhaps a string of losses in those fixtures bring Leicester City back down to earth, but even then they have a nine-point lead on the last place spot in the Champions League race (Tottenham on 29 points) and are up on third place Manchester City by six points too.
Dropping those points are no guarantee they are done in the race either, given the propensity of everyone else to drop points on any given weekend too.
It all adds up to a team that likely won’t be sellers come the new year, just don’t expect the rumors to stop in the rumor-mad English press.
The fact that a top of the league side selling its best players as pure lunacy aside — it’s all about narrative, and Leicester City can’t possibly be for real.
Reality is they are for real — and for real contenders aren’t in the business of selling the very players that have gotten them to the top of the mountain in mid-season.
Many in the media and across fanbases in England continue to refuse to believe Leicester City’s run to the top of the table is a real one — and until that is put to rest, the transfer rumors of the Foxes as big sellers will persist.
Just know it wise to remember the position, not the “prestige” of the club at the top of the table. Don’t look for the Foxes to be sellers come January, it simply defies the logic of championship-winning sides.