Leicester have held on to Riyad Mahrez and Demarai Gray as the transfer window closed but saw England midfielder Danny Drinkwater depart to Chelsea for a club-record fee.
Drinkwater’s move to the Premier League champions was officially confirmed more than two hours after Thursday’s 11pm transfer deadline had passed, with the 27-year-old signing a five-year contract with the Blues where he will be reunited with former Foxes midfield colleague N’Golo Kante.
A Foxes statement read: “Leicester City football Club has agreed a deal for the transfer of midfielder Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea for a club-record fee.
“Leicester wishes to express its gratitude to Danny for his contribution to the team’s achievements over the past five years, as he leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the football club.”
No fee was announced but reports suggest Chelsea have paid in the region of £35million for Drinkwater, who made 217 appearances for Leicester since joining from Manchester United in 2012 and helped them win the Premier League in 2016.
Mahrez, though, remains a Leicester player – for the time being at least.
The winger, another key figure in the Foxes’ remarkable title triumph, had been allowed to leave the Algeria squad and return to Europe to “formalise his transfer to his new club”, the Algerian Football Federation announced late on Wednesday.
There were reports throughout Thursday of Mahrez, who submitted a transfer request at the start of the summer, being spotted across Europe but the day passed with no new offers for either player and both remained at Leicester when the English transfer window closed on Thursday night.
Chelsea, Tottenham and Barcelona were linked with Mahrez but Leicester stuck to their valuation of the player, thought to be upwards of £40million. Roma were the only club to actually make offers for the former PFA Player of the Year and their bids were nowhere near Leicester’s asking price.
The Spanish window remains open for another 24 hours, though, so there is a chance Mahrez could still leave.
Meanwhile, Press Association Sport understands Gray had told Leicester he wished to move to Bournemouth after the Foxes rejected a £25million bid from the Cherries for the winger on Wednesday.
The transfer deadline in England also passed without any official confirmation regarding Leicester’s pursuit of Sporting Libson’s Adrien Silva, who had been lined up as a replacement for Drinkwater.
As regards other potential incomings, Leicester were keen to sign a central defender after having a second bid for West Brom captain Jonny Evans rejected this week. They turned their attentions to Calum Chambers but had a bid turned down by Arsenal before being told the 22-year-old was not for sale.
Leicester did finally get a centre-back through the door in the shape of Austria international Aleksandar Dragovic from Bayer Leverkusen on a season-long loan. Elsewhere, Nampalys Mendy was offloaded to Nice on loan.