Speaking to The Debate podcast (17/04), Paul Merson has given his view on Leicester’s potential Europa League qualification ahead of next season.
Under Claude Puel, Leicester looked a shadow of the team they were a few years ago but his sacking appears to have been timely in the race for a Europa League place.
Brendan Rodgers has managed to rejuvenate the club since he walked through the doors at the King Power and they’re now sitting in pole position in seventh place.
The Foxes have rediscovered their swagger under the Northern Irish manager, with Jamie Vardy back among the goals after struggling under Puel.
They’ve looked considerably better at both ends of the pitch and it came as no surprise to see them win four games on the bounce, prior to a disappointing defeat against Newcastle.
With four games to go, the final Europa League spot was discussed on The Debate. Speaking about Leicester’s chances, Merson appeared to think that it would be detrimental if they were to qualify. He said:
“I think with Brendan [Rodgers] he could do without it. Brendan’s just come in and would probably want a long pre-season with his players to bind to what he wants. He’s going to have to bring in some of his players that he likes so he’s going to need a longer pre-season than a Wolves.”
Competing in Europe should be an honour but when you’re entering the Europa League in the early qualification rounds it leads to quite a hectic pre-season.
As seen with Burnley last summer, they were left feeling the effects of competitive matches so early on and never really recovered, only just now discovering the type of form that makes them such a threat to the bigger sides.
Although Leicester have greater depth and better players, it could also be a hindrance and at the moment, their focus should be on rebuilding. Despite another European adventure looking appealing, it may be difficult for Rodgers to embed everything he wants to in the squad next summer if they had an extra distraction.
It could prove to be a busy summer for Leicester anyway, but one main advantage of securing European football would potentially be keeping Youri Tielemans at the club when his loan spell ends.
However, with games against Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea still to play, things could be out of their hands regardless.