Just a year after being bottom of the Premier League under Nigel Pearson, Leicester sit second in the top tier equal on points with table toppers Manchester City and have somehow landed a manger even more eccentric. Just less scary.
Claudio Ranieri has outfoxed the likes of Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal to take the club to a new level. Jamie Vardy will of course receive most of the plaudits thanks to his border line Hollywood movie inspiring form in recent times, but Riyad Mahrez and Danny Drinkwater are also performing exceptionally well.
Naturally, some of their best players have been linked with big money moves away after their meteoric rise in recent months. It seems unlikely the bigger names will leave barring an earth shattering bid, although some activity may be conducted in the winter market.
It’s hard to tell just where the fantastic Foxes will finish this season. With some astute signings, they are in a great position to land European football next season. Which level of continental competition remains to be seen, though as Vardy will tell you, anything is possible.
So here are three potential welcomes this January, as well as three potential goodbyes…
The versatile Clarets starlet has been hugely impressive since joining the club from Chesterfield earlier this summer as Sean Dyche’s side bid for an automatic return to the Premier League.
The 23-year old has performed exceptionally as either a right-back or further up the park in midfield during his short stint at Turf Moor so far, and is reportedly being lined up by a number of Premier League clubs.
Leicester are thought to been on the Nottingham born utility man as they look for a Dele Alli esque up and coming player from further down the league structure to make an immediate impact on the Premier League.
Could provide competition and cover for Danny Simpson in equal measure, and his pace is likely to fit right into the Foxes’ gut-busting tendency to counter attack.
USA Under-23 international Matt Miazga has been mooted as a potential target for Ranieri this January. The towering defender has drawn comparisons to former Dutch great Jaap Stam during the early stages of his career, previously being linked with the likes of Chelsea and Stoke.
However, it could be Leicester who make the first move to bring the 6ft 4 bruiser over from the MLS. Though Wes Morgan and Robert Huth have proved stoic so far, bringing in a young defender as cover could be a wise option as the club look to mount a serious challenge on the top four, five, six.
‘The Tinker man’ isn’t blessed with an awful lot of cover in central defence, and the young American has established himself as somewhat formidable in heart of the Red Bulls’ defence in recent times.
Tottenham winger Andros Townsend is having a pretty tough time of it over at White Hart Lane this season, out of the squad and his Euro 2016 hopes fading. The Foxes, amongst others, have been linked with the 24-year old this winter.
Townsend would be an excellent addition to this Leicester side. The urgency he brings marauding up and down the flanks would certainly suit the style of play imposed by Ranieri at the King Power Stadium. The England international is a step up from the likes of Nathan Dyer and Marc Albrighton, who have performed wonderfully in this setup.
Perhaps a move away from North London can take the pressure off and help the former QPR loan star improve on his end product, making him a truly lethal winger.
Touted as a replacement for the sensational Esteban Cambiasso, the Foxes are playing so well, the Swiss star can’t even get a look in. Seemed a natural fit when he arrived from Napoli this summer, but the form of Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante have prevented him from regularly claiming a starting berth.
Now, AC Milan have been linked with making a loan swoop for him. Yes, AC Milan are apparently now looking into borrowing players from Leicester, that’s the world we live in.
Though it would of course be tempting to keep a player of Inler’s talents as cover for your first choice pairing, having him just sit on the bench isn’t doing anyone much good.
The club record signing only arrived a year ago for £9m, but hasn’t been able to dislodge Jamie Vardy from the starting eleven whatsoever. With Leonardo Ulloa and summer signing Shinji Okazaki battling for a place to partner the England man, Kramaric appears to be the odd one out.
He’s another Leicester star to be linked with a loan switch to Serie A, with giants Juventus thought to be keen on making a New Year swoop. Valencia has also been touted as a possible destination for the Croatian international, who has only started three Capital One Cup games this season.
Another sign of the times that two traditionally big, and in Juve’s case last year’s Champions League finalists, European clubs are looking to loan a player from the King Power Stadium.
It’s almost hard to write this as nobody wants the fairy tale to end. A lot less likely to leave than the two previously mentioned, but reports suggest both Manchester United and Chelsea are lining up huge money bids for the 28-year old.
The Vardy story has been thrilling and inspiring, but should the club receive a firm offer £20m+ offer for a player approaching 30 and they only signed for £1m, it would be fascinating to see what happens. Whereas Riyad Mahrez is a longer term option, cashing in on Vardy while his stock is astronomical could prove too tempting for those behind the scenes at the club.
That is not to say they would delight in letting the former Fleetwood Town man leave, of course not, but from a business point of view, perhaps a deal can be done.
Again, it’s not really a nice thought, but stranger things have happened.