It has been a summer of upheaval and turmoil at Leicester City. There have been 25 transactions, 16 departures and nine arrivals.
Close to £100million ($126m) has come in through sales and an estimated £36million has been spent.
This has not been the squad refresh that former manager Brendan Rodgers urged the club to carry out when they were a Premier League outfit; it has been an almost total rebuild.
Even now, after the transfer window closed with the post-deadline announcement that young striker Tom Cannon was the last to join the club from Everton, there is still uncertainty surrounding the final makeup of Enzo Maresca’s squad.
Patson Daka looked destined to join Bournemouth on deadline day, only for the switch to break down as they were unable to move on another striker — believed to be Kieffer Moore — to make room. Still, Daka, who has not featured in any of Maresca’s squads, could still move on, with the window open in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, among other locations.
With just hours to go before the window closed, Maresca took an afternoon training session on Friday to prepare his side for the visit of Hull City. Having players training for the game who might not be at the club come kick-off was hardly ideal.
Wilfred Ndidi was being lined up by Nottingham Forest but their preferred target was PSV Eindhoven’s Ibrahim Sangare. When Sangare completed his move, Forest’s interest in Ndidi ended.
Forest were also interested in Kelechi Iheanacho but, having been put off by Leicester’s asking price, they took Divock Origi on loan from AC Milan instead.
Both Ndidi and Iheanacho started in the 1-0 defeat to Hull City.
They were not the only ones to be the subjects of interest. Harry Souttar, another who has not been seen yet this season and cost £15million from Stoke City in January, was wanted initially by Rangers, but the loan move to join his brother John in Glasgow did not happen. That ended any hopes Leicester had of trying to compete with Southampton to sign Taylor Harwood-Bellis on loan from Manchester City.
The same can be said of Leicester’s attempts to bring in City’s James McAtee on loan late in the window; McAtee chose to return to Sheffield United instead.
As things stand, Leicester still have one player who cannot be registered for their 25-man squad this season. The identity of that player will be revealed when the squad is officially submitted to the EFL on Wednesday at 12pm — but with five goalkeepers on the books, it seems likely that one of them will miss out.
While all this was happening away from the pitch, Leicester suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday against Hull, ending a six-game winning start in all competitions.
After the defeat — one in which Leicester could only manage one shot on target from 21 attempts — Maresca was upbeat. The uncertainty and distracting speculation are now over. The manager can get down to business.
Even during the winning run, it was clear Leicester are a long way from being the finished article, but the foundations are in place. Whether they are solid enough and the business they have done will be enough, only time will tell.
Although Callum Doyle will have better games than he did against Hull, the 19-year-old has started well on the left of the defence. Harry Winks is already a pivotal player and his fitness and availability will be key to Maresca’s plan, as will new goalkeeper Mads Hermansen, who fancies himself as a playmaker at times.
Cesare Casadei has looked promising when he featured, and his presence against Hull as a second-half substitute injected energy and urgency into Leicester’s play.
Yunus Akgun had a quiet game on his first start, but he has only been with the club less than a week, while Abdul Fatawu made his debut and excited the fans with his direct running, and he came closest to an equaliser.
Leicester fans have yet to see Conor Coady, who will provide on-pitch leadership, and striker Cannon is an exciting prospect, having scored eight Championship goals in 20 appearances on loan with Preston North End last season. Leicester will need Cannon up to speed — not only if Daka leaves but also because Iheanacho (and Daka) will feature at the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
There will be more stumbles like Hull along the way this season, as Maresca’s men try to get into their full stride. Despite pundits and many at the club believing Leicester should return to the Premier League at the first time of asking, the Championship has to be respected.
When they return from the upcoming international break, away to Southampton, it will feel like the season is truly getting started.
Leicester’s major transfers
Harry Winks — Tottenham Hotspur, £10m
Conor Coady — Wolverhampton Wanderers, £7.5m
Mads Hermansen — Brondby, £5 million
Callum Doyle — Manchester City, loan
Cesare Casadei — Chelsea, loan
Stephy Mavididi — Montpellier, £6.5m
Thomas Cannon — Everton, £7.5m
Yunus Akgun — Galatasaray, loan
Abdul Fatawu — Sporting Lisbon, loan
James Maddison — Tottenham Hotspur, £40m
Harvey Barnes — Newcastle United £38m
Timothy Castagne — Fulham, £13million
Youri Tielemans — Aston Villa, free
Ayoze Perez — Real Betis, free
Daniel Amartey — Besiktas, free
Jonny Evans — Manchester United, free
Nampalys Mendy, free
Caglar Soyuncu — Atletico Madrid, free
Tete, end of loan
Ryan Bertrand, free
Victor Kristiansen — Bologna, loan
Luke Thomas — Sheffield United, loan
Boubakary Soumare — Seville, loan
Lewis Brunt — Mansfield Town, loan
George Hirst — Ipswich Town, £1.5m
(Top photo: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)