Can Leicester Remain a Dominant EPL Force?
April 28, 2016
All things considered, Leicester’s seemingly imminent coronation as EPL champions is arguably the single greatest achievement in the history of top-flight football in England. While it can be argued that Nottingham Forest stormed to the First Division title just one year after earning promotion in 1978, Brian Clough’s team did not have to compete with a myriad of rivals spending hundreds of millions of pounds in the transfer market.
With the Foxes just three points away from an inaugural title, however, the conversation has now begun to focus on whether or not the club can sustain its status as an elite Premier League force. This is far trickier to call, particularly with Leicester relatively restricted in terms of financial resources and about to be caught in the eye of a top flight revolution.
The Case Against: Why the Foxes may struggle next season
Quite aside from having to juggle Champions League with Premier League football next term, the Foxes will face a myriad of challenges that can usually be negated by EPL winners. Firstly there is the issue of hanging on to key squad members, with three or four Leicester players in particularly coveted by major European clubs. Riyad Mahrez has apparently caught the eye of Barcelona scouts, for example, while the tireless N’Golo Kante continues to interest a host of Premier League clubs including Arsenal (where he would undoubtedly add the most value).
Even if the Foxes held on to these players, they are likely to have a relatively minimal amount of money to spend on improving their squad in the summer. This is a requisite for all forward-thinking champions, but Leicester will surely struggle to fund the transfer fees and wages of Europe’s brightest prospects. Then we must factor in the Foxes’ effective but simplistic playing style, which is sure to be countered by sides next season as teams look to eliminate the space in behind their defence when taking on Leicester home or away.
The Real Challenge Facing Leicester: The Revival of the EPL’s elite
There is one other major threat to Leicester’s continued success, however, and that is the revival of the EPL’s elite that is sure to take place next season. New Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is sure to be given a huge war chest to attract Europe’s best players, for example, while Jurgen Klopp will also be backed with the millions needed to rebuild Liverpool. Arsenal, Spurs and a revitalised Chelsea will also spend big in the pursuit of success, while Manchester United will most likely undergo a costly transformation with or without Jose Mourinho at the helm.
This would surely leave the Foxes floundering in the defence of their hard earned title, especially if they are unable to retain their top talent.
Of course, the Foxes may yet surprise us by continuing to establish themselves as a dominant force at the top of the EPL. If not, however, they can still take solace in what will be an immense achievement if they do win the league this term and remember that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.