In a cruel twist of fate, Leicester City will again start the Premier League season in the midst of a defensive injury crisis.
Just like last term – when Wilfred Ndidi was forced to fill in at the back – the absences of James Justin, Jonny Evans and Wesley Fofana means the Foxes kick off the campaign with Caglar Soyuncu as their only recognised centre-back.
Some of those lay-offs are long-term too, with Brendan Rodgers plotting to strengthen his defensive ranks before the season gets underway. Since the full extent of Fofana’s injury was revealed, a host of centre-backs have been linked with Leicester.
The question is, which of these players would be best suited to a move to the King Power Stadium.
Leicester have already invested in Patson Daka and Boubakary Soumare this summer and with seemingly no sales in the pipeline they could struggle to afford another sizeable transfer fee.
This makes the loan market an attractive option and one name mentioned by The Athletic is Phil Jones.
Once tipped by Sir Alex Ferguson to become one of Manchester United’s greatest ever players, he has now not played since January 2020. This makes signing him – even if it is on loan – a huge risk.
There are also question marks over whether he would be able to play out from the back at the level that Rodgers requires from his defenders. One to avoid, probably.
It is thought that the club would be open to selling the Scotland international for around £10m, making him well within Leicester’s price range.
Although his displays in the Jupiler Pro League have earned rave reviews, his lack of Premier League experience is a real worry. Leicester will be expecting whoever they sign to perform from the off and Hendry would likely need a bedding-in period.
Another option from the loan market is Bayern Munich’s Chris Richards. The 21-year-old is already a United States international and has also made his Bayern debut.
He spent the second half of last season on loan at Hoffenheim, slotting straight into the first team before a hamstring injury cut his campaign short.
There is plenty to like about Richards; a true modern defender, he has no problem playing out from the back and can deputise at full-back if required.
Then again, he has never played in the Premier League and Rodgers could be looking for experience, particularly if Evans’ foot injury continues to plague him.
Gary Cahill is currently available on a free transfer following the expiration of his Crystal Palace contract.
Bringing him in would be a short-term solution – he turned 36 in December – but it could work. He looked perfectly adequate during his two seasons with the Eagles and is accomplished on the ball.
He also remains a threat from set pieces and his leadership would be welcome in the Foxes’ fairly young dressing room. One to consider, for sure.
It is bizarre than no one has taken a punt on Ozan Kabak yet. Available for a two Mars Bars and a packet of Quavers due to Schalke’s relegation, he has been heavily linked with a move to Sevilla recently.
However, as 90min reported this week, Leicester’s interest in Kabak is long-standing and following Fofana’s injury they are ready to accelerate negotiations.
Rodgers is understood to have personally recommended him and it is easy to see why. Comfortable on the ball and with half a season of Premier League action under his belt, he ticks plenty of boxes.
Jannik Vestergaard has been linked with Leicester for some time and this summer he could finally make a move to the King Power Stadium.
Even with Southampton struggling defensively last season, Vestergaard’s reputation as a reliable Premier League centre-back has persevered.
His contract is set to expire at the end of the campaign and with the defender indicating he has no intention of penning fresh terms, Saints may be forced to sell him this summer.
Vestergaard has plenty of good qualities but is a particular threat from set pieces – an area Leicester did not exploit enough last term.
Back in 2019 Leicester were quoted a mammoth £50m for James Tarkowski. One year later the same happened.
This time around, though, things could be different. Like Vestergaard Tarkowski’s contract expires at the end of the season and his chances of extending the deal are remote.
Therefore, the Clarets could finally be convinced the part with one of their prized assets before the end of the month. Tarkowski is one of the best out and out defenders in the Premier League, ranking well in most defensive metrics.
There would be concerns about his ball-playing ability, but he is not a complete philistine – it’s just not something he has ever been asked to do at Burnley.
Provided the price is not unreasonably high, Leicester should do all they can to get Tarkowski in before the transfer window slams shut.