Latest Leicester signings a gamble for second-season survival

Leicester City’s miraculous survival became one of the great storylines of 2014/15, but jubilation has been replaced by a degree of turbulence heading into the Foxes second Premier League season since returning to the top tier.

Indeed, at that time of the year when crystal balls get their biggest work out, many have foreseen the Foxes to be among the main candidates to be relegated already, priced as 3/1 fifth favourites by Ladbrokes.

Nigel Pearson’s rather bizarre exit as manager kicked things off in bad fashion this summer and the chequered record of the man brought into replace him is also feeding the negativity.

Claudio Ranieri, aka The Tinkerman, forged a reputation as a relentless rotator when in charge of Chelsea between 2000-2004; a trophy-less stint which ultimately saw him being axed.

The Italian has since landed jobs at several top European sides as well as taking the reins of Greece prior to arriving at Leicester, though as was the case latterly, these postings have predominantly ended in his contract being terminated.

In fact, his only major achievement following a trickle of silverware at Fiorentina and Valencia in the mid-to-late 90s was guiding Monaco, heavily backed by rich owners, to the Ligue 2 title in 2012/13.

If Ranieri is a reason for concern at the King Power Stadium then two of his latest signings will probably add to that anxiousness in the form of N’Golo Kante and Yohan Benalouane.

Unlike other summer additions Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs and Shinji Okazaki – who bring a certain level of Premier League, Bundesliga and international pedigree between them – the same cannot be said at all for this duo.

With Leicester bound to feel the loss of last season’s uber-experienced talisman Esteban Cambiasso, that void is supposedly being filled with 24-year-old Kante, who has only one Ligue 1 campaign under his belt after cutting his teeth in Ligues 2 and 3 previously.


Irreplaceable? Cambiasso’s role in the team looks to be going to the relatively unknown Kante

Meanwhile, at 28, Tunisian Benalouane has plotted a fairly unremarkable career path beginning at Saint-Etienne and taking in Serie A lesser lights Cesana, Parma and Atalanta before this move.

Neither player came cheap either, with both men rumoured to have cost approximately £5.5m each.

Leicester will be hoping the pair can quickly adapt to the English game, but at this stage their acquisitions look a little speculative to say the least.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.