Jamie is not going to grow old.

Leices­ter returned to the elite of Eng­lish foot­ball a year after rel­e­ga­tion. Enzo Mareschi’s team guar­an­teed itself a place in the top 2 of the cham­pi­onship two rounds before the end of the sea­son. Can you guess who led the team at the most dif­fi­cult moment? That’s right, 37-year-old Jamie Vardy. A unique per­son who drank half a glass of port the day before the game and at the same time was rec­og­nized as the best play­er in the Pre­mier League in Leicester’s gold­en sea­son.

The Eng­lish­man is still in great shape, but is not as fast as before. How­ev­er, this does not stop him from doing what he has always been good at: scor­ing goals.

Turn on at the right time

Leices­ter’s rel­e­ga­tion from the Pre­mier League last sea­son came as a real sur­prise to many. The club cur­rent­ly has the most expen­sive squad in the Cham­pi­onship (€211 mil­lion accord­ing to Trans­fer­markt), so their quick return should­n’t be too sur­pris­ing. In addi­tion, there were changes in the coach­ing staff in the sum­mer, and this ben­e­fit­ed the team.

Before the start of the sea­son, Leices­ter was led by Pep Guardi­o­la’s for­mer assis­tant at Man­ches­ter City, Enzo Maresca. His assis­tants are for­mer City and Argenti­na goal­keep­er Willy Caballero. Maresca, like his teacher, is obsessed with ball con­trol and short pass­ing. Enzo’s ideas quick­ly took root at King Pow­er — in the first half of the cham­pi­onship, Leices­ter went almost unde­feat­ed. By mid-Feb­ru­ary, the Fox­es were in first place by 14 points, hav­ing won 25 vic­to­ries in 32 rounds.

Enzo Maresca.
Pho­to by Glob­al Look Press

But then the prob­lems began: three defeats in a row, includ­ing from direct rival Leeds. It was then that Vardy came to the fore. In March, the 37-year-old for­ward scored three goals in four match­es, and scored three more times in April.

To date, Jamie has 16 goals in 33 match­es and is the team’s top scor­er. More­over, he start­ed only 16 times and played only 1618 min­utes — 18 full match­es. At the same time, Vardy is in fifth place in the list of top scor­ers in the cham­pi­onship. Very strong result!

“We are well aware that Jamie is our key play­er. He plays a very impor­tant role this sea­son. Vardy has expe­ri­ence, he does the most impor­tant thing in foot­ball — he scores goals,” Maresca said.

7 years ago, Leices­ter sen­sa­tion­al­ly became cham­pi­ons and made the whole world fall in love with them, and now they have been rel­e­gat­ed from the Pre­mier League. Some­thing went wrong?

Vardy helped Leices­ter with more than just goals

Jamie’s role in the team is not lim­it­ed to goals. He is the cap­tain and soul of the team, its engine and heart. And Vardy also had to show his lead­er­ship skills at the most dif­fi­cult moment of the sea­son.

Leices­ter was con­fi­dent­ly mov­ing along the table until mid-Feb­ru­ary, but from Feb­ru­ary 17 to April 12, the Fox­es suf­fered six defeats and a draw in 10 rounds, los­ing the lead. At this point Vardy came into play.

“It was Vardy who called a meet­ing of the play­ers to fig­ure out what was going on,” said the forward’s team­mate, anoth­er Leices­ter vet­er­an, Marc Albrighton. — Many more play­ers spoke out than I expect­ed. It was a big con­ver­sa­tion about the sig­nif­i­cance of the club’s return to the Pre­mier League. Jamie cre­ates dia­logue and helps relieve dai­ly stress. He has his own unique meth­ods of prepa­ra­tion, but he is a good friend of mine, and in any case his con­tri­bu­tion to the his­to­ry of this club is unpar­al­leled.”

From that moment on, Leices­ter pulled itself togeth­er, won two vic­to­ries in a row (Vardy scored in both meet­ings) and, two rounds before the fin­ish, leads the stand­ings with a four-point lead over Leeds.

Jamie Vardy.
Pho­to by Glob­al Look Press

Vardy turned down a super offer in the summer

But Jamie’s career could have gone in a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent direc­tion. In the sum­mer, the Sau­di Al-Khal­ij was hunt­ing for him, of course, offer­ing suit­cas­es of mon­ey. Accord­ing to Sky Sports, the Eng­lish­man imme­di­ate­ly reject­ed the offer because he felt that mov­ing to Sau­di Ara­bia would not ben­e­fit his fam­i­ly.

Jamie Vardy’s sig­na­ture dish

At the same time, whether Vardy will remain at Leices­ter is a big ques­tion. His con­tract with the club is valid until June 30, 2024, and nego­ti­a­tions on an exten­sion are still on pause.

Accord­ing to the British media, Jamie is choos­ing between two options: stay­ing in the team for anoth­er year to lose in the Pre­mier League, or end­ing his career. What­ev­er deci­sion he makes, it will be a beau­ti­ful sto­ry. The same as Leices­ter’s cham­pi­onship in the 2015/16 sea­son.

Pho­to by Glob­al Look Press

What will happen to Leicester next season?

A sum­mer ahead will be filled with law­suits, rumors and uncer­tain­ty. Leices­ter has dif­fi­cul­ties with finan­cial fair play; fines and even deduc­tion of points in the Pre­mier League are pos­si­ble after return­ing.

With a high degree of prob­a­bil­i­ty, the Fox­es will have big prob­lems in the trans­fer mar­ket. It will not be easy for the club to retain the team lead­ers and sign new play­ers.

Leices­ter’s main asset right now is 25-year-old Kier­nan Dews­bury-Hall (his val­ue is €30 mil­lion, accord­ing to Trans­fer­markt). The mid­field­er came into his own after the sale of James Mad­di­son to Tot­ten­ham, and now he is the main slot in Leices­ter’s win­dow. The mid­field­er, who scored 12+14 this sea­son, will def­i­nite­ly not have prob­lems with offers — Liv­er­pool and Tot­ten­ham are already inter­est­ed in him. Its sale will sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve the Blues’ finan­cial posi­tion.

The Tale of Leices­ter. Part two

But even with­out him, Leicester’s squad, at least for an out­sider in the Pre­mier League, is not the worst. The line­up includes Ihenacho, Daka, Winks, Ndi­di, Pereira — all peo­ple with sol­id expe­ri­ence of play­ing in the Eng­lish “tow­er”. But the squad will have to be strength­ened in any case — now you def­i­nite­ly won’t be able to sur­vive on Vardy alone. And only if he remains on the team.

We’ll find out very soon how Leices­ter will change in the off-sea­son. In the mean­time, you can be hap­py for the team and per­son­al­ly for its vet­er­an scor­er, who refus­es to grow old.