Were these Leicester stars right to turn down Arsenal moves?
The international break is over which can only mean one thing – the Premier League is back! Chelsea and Leicester City will be kicking things off on Saturday lunchtime with Liverpool and Manchester United rounding off proceedings on Monday evening.
So before the games get underway, we thought it would be a good time to assess the performances of two players who stayed loyal to their club in the summer, despite interest from one of the biggest sides in the league.
Did they make the right decision? Or will they be kicking themselves?
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger activated Vardy’s release clause very early on in the summer, and a move looked all but certain prior to England travelling to France for Euro 2016.
The Foxes striker was available to any side for £20m, and with the Gunners in desperate need of a goalscorer, Wenger jumped at the chance to sign the man who finished second only to Harry Kane in last year’s scoring charts with 24 goals.
And while odds were as short as 1/10 for Vardy to sign for the north London outfit at one stage, the former Fleetwood Town striker opted to stay at the King Power Stadium, much to the relief of supporters.
However, so far this season, Vardy has failed to reach the heights he hit last campaign, with the striker himself only managing two league goals – a figure that can be matched or bettered by no less than five Arsenal players.
Will such an opportunity for a big move come around again?
Mahrez’s form also mirrors that of Leicester’s, having set such high standards last year, and suddenly the pressure on the Algerian has amplified.
The Gunners were reportedly close to agreeing a deal worth around £40m for the 25-year-old back in August, but the PFA Player of the Year opted to loyal to the Foxes.
However, had he have moved to the Emirates, perhaps such levels of pressure would have been eased and shared across a squad expected to win week-in week-out. Instead, as has often been the case already this season,
Leicester fans have looked to their star man to bail them out too often, and while he’s impressing in Europe, Mahrez isn’t having anywhere near the desired impact in the top-flight.
Though it may seem harsh to say the forward looks a shadow of the player he was last campaign, the his statistics would certainly support that.
For a man that scored 17 goals and assisted 11 in Leicester’s title-winning season, one goal and one assist this time out suggests the winger is playing nowhere near his best.
Granted, the team as a whole aren’t performing to the standards their fans have come to expect over the last 18 months. But the likes of Vardy and Mahrez should be the ones lifting their teammates, but at the moment, they too seem to be playing with their heads down.
Up next for the Foxes is a trip to Stamford Bridge, a place where they haven’t won for over 16 years.
But who knows? Perhaps this is the game that sparks the kind of form that saw Claudio Ranieri’s men defy all odds in 2015-16.
What do Gunners fans think? Were Vardy and Mahrez right to stay put? Have your say in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing