N’Golo Kante has made a £30m switch to London club Chelsea, threatening the start of a break-up of Leicester’s title winning team. At first glance, it makes Jamie Vardy’s choice to reject an approach from Arsenal all the more puzzling. At the time it was believed this was made after consulting key members of The Foxes squad about their future plans. So what does it all really mean?
Firstly, it means Vardy’s seemingly difficult decision, takes on a whole new dynamic. Let’s say during the pause he took from making an immediate choice, he did ask the likes of Kante and Mahrez what their next career choices were going to be. When he turned The Gunners down, it was a sign the squad was about to adhere to the wishes of Claudio Ranieri, and give Leicester one more year before moving on.
Perhaps Vardy was never given that reassurance from the key players. It’s unlikely they would outright lie to him if asked, so at best, he would have gotten an unsure response.
This does mean Jamie Vardy analysed his choices and made what he felt was the best decision for him. And he made the correct one.
He’s at the Premier League champions. Arsenal may be a bigger club, and with a new manager could have offered a fresh alternative, but the reality is they haven’t got a better chance of taking the title than Leicester.
Size and stature mean little if stunted by stubborn ideas.
That lack of desire to change approach is of course driven by Arsène Wenger. Other than teasing Vardy with the grandiose setting and a chance to take his place in the history books along former players like Thierry Henry, there’s very little that made logical sense.
Jamie Vardy is already 29 years of age, everything that is occurring now already supersedes what he would of dared dream a few years ago. From a professional standpoint, other than Arsenal mythology, there is no tangible evidence he would further develop under Wenger’s watch.
The Arsenal boss has a history of taking promising young players from other clubs and freezing their potential in the same room as he keeps his title aspirations.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain must fear he will become another Theo Walcott. The latter now looking for a move to another club to reignite a career the Frenchman killed. One of those clubs is West Ham, where another former Southampton youth talent, Carl Jenkinson, went on loan for the same reason. Calum Chambers will be hoping he isn’t the Oxlade-Chamberlain to Jenkinson’s Walcott.
During this time, Vardy’s talent has risen exponentially.
These must have been considerations the striker took, along with a major one: Wenger was disrespectful trying it on before the Euros.
For Kante things look decidedly different. He’s only 25, and is looking beyond a glory year with underdogs in the Champions League. His new manager, Antonio Conte, was equally absorbed with the Euros and approached at a more appropriate time.
With age on his side, the move should be (using historical data) a wise one. With Roman Abramovich’s desire and resources, Chelsea will get back to the top of the English game. It remains to be seen if Leicester can remain in the top four after coming from nowhere and against all expectation.
Conte is also a close confidante of Ranieri’s, so one has to assume the move was sanctioned, even if somewhat begrudgingly, without any negativity.
With it now looking like Riyad Mahrez will follow N’Golo Konte out of the King Power Stadium, a positive atmosphere is something Ranieri will need to maintain at the club. Losing two-thirds of the important title winning trinity will test his minerals as a manager. Who would have thought, after taking 5000/1 outsiders to championship glory, his biggest test was yet to come?
But it was a title success built on togetherness and shared belief. Whoever comes in must have passed a character suitability test and can converge into the psyche that shook the Premier League.
Leading that line is Jamie Vardy. He’s already living the dream. A move now doesn’t give a Hollywood ending to this story; it would show a betrayal to an ethos that allowed hard work and desire to overcome the odds and those with greater financial clout.
Kante moving on can be understood, but Vardy staying is to be applauded and admired.