Leicester - Claudio Ranieri is sticking
with Leicester's title-winning blueprint and said the club won't be in the
market for established, expensive talent to strengthen the Premier League
"We don't need the superstars,"
Ranieri said on Tuesday, a day after the trophy was clinched with two games to
spare. "I want to improve the squad without big stars, but the right
With a squad that cost less than $80
million to assemble, Leicester completed one of the greatest transformations in
sporting history. From being relegation candidates and 5 000-1 outsiders for
the title, Leicester won the biggest prize in its 132-year history.
But it was achieved without the midweek
demands of European soccer, which Leicester will have next season after
qualifying for the Champions League for the first time.
No wonder, Ranieri is significantly
lowering expectations for next season.
"For us it is important to stay in the
10th position around there and try to fight to go into Europe," Ranieri
said at Leicester's modest training ground.
Leicester's eye for bargains has won
admirers throughout the game.
Top-scorer Jamie Vardy was talent spotted
while playing outside England's four professional leagues four years ago. The
striker's 22 goals this season saw him voted player of the year by the Football
Writers' Association this week.
Riyad Mahrez, who has scored 17 goals and
provided 11 assists in the title charge, won the same accolade in a vote by his
fellow professionals. The Algeria winger was an unknown when he joined
Leicester two years ago from second-tier French side Le Havre for less than
then about $820 000.
Ranieri's biggest task in the summer
transfer window could be keeping hold of his players while trying to avoid
upsetting the balance of his squad with new recruits.
"It is too early to say we need five,
six, seven or eight players," Ranieri said. "If one of my players
says to me I want to go ... I try to keep him. I suggest to everybody this is a
"We won the title. We can do something
good in our few years. If you go away, you don't know what happens, here you
are the king ... it is much better to stay here one year more and look what
happens. Then maybe you can go anywhere."
Although wealthier rivals could offer
Leicester's stars bigger salaries, the central England club appears to offer
more stability for now at a time when Chelsea - and potentially Manchester
United - will be out of the Champions League next season.
"The Champions League is another
important league to compare yourself to the other champions," Ranieri said
in a public message to his players. "Maybe you change team and go in the
big teams, maybe you don't start very well and stay outside the first eleven,
you slow down.
"It is important to choose very well
for the lads because now, for me as well, the lads are my sons. If they come to
me I say this, 'Be careful.' Leicester in the long-term will go in a very high