Leicester City's Champions League Conundrum: Should the Foxes Stick or Twist This Summer?

03/05/2016 16:27

​Leicester City are Premier League champions, it might take a bit of time for that alone to settle in. The images and videos of heroes like Wes Morgan celebrating will stick in the memory for a very long time, while history will never ever forget the plucky band of players who came, saw and conquered, leaving English football's giants in their dust.

But time waits for no man, or Fox, in professional football, certainly not at the top level. This triumph may be the culmination of everything Leicester have worked so hard for since returning to the top flight in 2014, yet it has so much more potential to be the very start of something even bigger. The problem is, the situation moving forward is surprisingly delicate.

Leicester, quite simply, have a huge summer ahead. Claudio Ranieri has already insisted that the target next season is nothing more than a top 10 finish, but there will still be a weight of expectation and intrigue on his team's shoulders. Besides, they will also be among the top seeds in the Champions League, on a par with Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and whoever wins the titanic three-way battle atop La Liga.

The opportunity is there. Never before will the club have seen so much money. Between Premier League prize money, the huge new television contracts due to come into effect next season, Champions League revenue and everything else that comes with it, Leicester will, for want of a better term, be rolling in it. This for a club with wealthy owners who have already shown a willingness to spend - think £24million on Leonardo Ulloa, Andrej Kramaric and Shinji Okazaki alone since the beginning of last season.

Spending big could easily have the effect of more permanently bridging the gap between themselves and the Premier League's traditional elite, making hopes of future title runs a reality. It would also give them an infinitely better chance of being able to cope with the much more demanding schedule that will present itself next season, with six extra midweek games to play by early December. That figure could increase further depending on how they fare in the continent's top competition.

Buying well is vital. In theory, Leicester could have their pick of many top players in Europe. There's no reason to suggest that the best players from clubs like Roma, Inter, Milan, Napoli or Fiorentina would turn them down. They could offer more money than any Italian team, perhaps except for Juventus, and have the appeal of a manager who is well respected in Serie A and Italian football in general. More so, now.

Likewise, the great appeal brought on by what the existing players have already achieved, combined with the money, of course, could also tempt top individuals from Portugal, France and Germany. Spain, too.

But do Leicester fans want to see a whole host of new players suddenly rock up at the King Power on big wages at the expense of the heroes of 2016? The answer is almost undoubtedly no. What has made this team and its achievements so special is the close-knit bond and spirit that doesn't exist anywhere else in the Premier League. It's no coincidence that Ranieri has used fewer players than any other manager in England this season. But, whether they alone can take this dream further is extremely debatable.

Therein lies the problem. Being too loyal, sticking with what they have, those who got them to this point will, more than likely, be a mistake. It's not guaranteed to end badly, but with everything going on it's certainly a big risk. Recent history has shown us that even clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have struggled badly after resting on their laurels following a title win. For Leicester, it will be even tougher given that all of what is to come is so new.

On the other side of the coin, spending big and adding too many new faces could just as easily wreck everything that has been built. But again, as things stand, the current Leicester side has a limited shelf life.

What it really comes down to is how this season and its significant achievements are viewed within the club. Is this the pinnacle, or is it only the beginning?

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