Burnley 2.0? £17.5m Leicester City pair lay groundwork for Maresca’s men to p*ss the Championship

Lewis Oldham
Leicester plan for promotion
Harry Winks and Conor Coady have joined Enzo Maresca at Leicester City.

Leicester City have spent £17.5m on two England internationals to steal a march on Leeds and Southampton. Will they p*ss the Championship like Burnley did?


Leicester City moved swiftly to appoint Enzo Maresca following their Premier League relegation and the former Man City coach has been in the hot seat for nearly a month.

The 43-year-old’s recruitment drive is well-underway, but the same cannot be said for last season’s other two teams who dropped into the Championship. Leeds United prolonged their search for a new manager before finally opting for Daniel Farke and Southampton were involved in a drawn-out negotiation with Swansea City over compensation for Russell Martin prior to his arrival being formalised.

Leeds and Southampton are yet to make a signing ahead of their returns to the second tier. And while this is far from a death sentence, the 2023/24 season is somehow only a month away already and they are playing catch up on Leicester City, who are in a pretty cushty position.

This is not to say their post-relegation period has been perfect. James Maddison’s exit was always inevitable. Fellow attacker Harvey Barnes is also expected to leave, with Newcastle and West Ham among his admirers.

Leicester will realistically prefer Barnes to go pretty soon so more money can be added to their own summer transfer kitty and these high-profile exits make them the most likely candidate to be the biggest spenders in the Championship in 23/24.

Being the league’s biggest spender is not always a cheat code for success (I’m looking at you, Stoke City), but Leicester are using their money better than some of their predecessors have in the Championship.

Nearly half of the Maddison money has been spent to sign Harry Winks and Conor Coady from Tottenham and Wolves respectively.

Winks’ reputation declined during the latter stages of his spell at his boyhood club, with most people forgetting just how dependable he was for large portions of his time at Spurs.

The £10m Foxes newbie benefitted from a Serie A loan with Sampdoria last season and this new challenge away from Tottenham is coming at the right time for the 27-year-old. Given that he’d have been a decent signing for most bottom-half Premier League sides (barring Chelsea, perhaps), it was initially somewhat of a surprise to hear that he is dropping down to the Championship with Leicester.

But he has no doubt been offered a hefty wage and the prospect of being a team’s star player must have appealed to Winks, who has previously been a solid (but not integral) figure for Tottenham under several managers.

Leicester signing Winks has largely been met with a feeling of dread by their new rivals in the second tier, but they have baulked at the Foxes paying £7.5m for Coady.

Everton could have signed the 30-year-old permanently for £4.5m this summer, but this was never going to happen after he featured in just two of their last 14 Premier League games last season under Sean Dyche.

Instead, Wolves have benefitted from Leicester’s deep pockets, with £7.5m (plus an extra £1m in add-ons) being spent by the Foxes to secure Coady’s services.

It’s pretty easy to argue that Leicester have overpaid for Coady, but they will counter that by suggesting that he is worth the money to them.

READ MORE: £85m Leicester duo among 10 Championship players who will be involved in major summer transfers

Coady is a renowned great leader (which is why he has managed to cling onto a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for this long) and his experience could prove to be critical as Leicester attempt to secure an immediate return to the Premier League.

With just these signings, Maresca has set his stall out and made it clear that he is focusing on signing low-risk how boring players – how boring – who add great experience and have pedigree at Championship level.

Leicester are now being heavily linked with Man City’s Zack Steffen, Fulham’s Tom Cairney and Swansea City’s Joel Piroe. These signings add to a very tasty-looking potential XI for next season.

Fans of the Championship will be hoping to be treated to an exciting title battle next season after last year’s was a damp squib due to Burnley being too bloody good.

But early indications suggest that we could have another runaway leader at the top with Leicester following in the footsteps of Vincent Kompany’s Clarets.

And if Maresca has as good a debut season in the Championship as Kompany did, Leicester City will be laughing.

Kompany and Mikel Arteta are proving to be great managers in their own right after working under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad and now it’s Maresca’s turn to try to sprinkle some Man City-inspired stardust over Leicester City.

The Foxes’ 22/23 final day performance against West Ham will have surely infuriated their supporters because they would have been way clear of the relegation zone had they played like that more regularly.

But this relegation affords Leicester City the opportunity to reset and up to now, they are going about it the right (and unexciting) way. This should ensure that their spell on a downward trajectory is over quickly so the good times can return to The King Power Stadium via promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

READ MORE: Maddison is the Eriksen replacement Spurs have craved for years – they might have got a transfer just right