EPL

Vardy is Leicester's 'best ever' as Iheanacho goes from strength to strength

By Sports Desk May 17, 2021

Jamie Vardy will be remembered as Leicester City's greatest ever player, according to his former team-mate Andy King.

Vardy's goals fired Leicester to an unforgettable Premier League title triumph in 2015-16, when he was named the FWA Footballer of the Year and went on to play and score for England at Euro 2016.

While the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante went on to seek pastures new, Vardy remained as the Foxes' talisman and on Saturday added the club's first FA Cup to their maiden top-flight title when Youri Tielemans' thunderbolt sunk Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley.

The 34-year-old's fairy tale ascent from non-league football has been well documented and, with 116 goals, he lies 19th on the Premier League's all-time goalscorers list.

Vardy will have his eye on climbing a few more places yet, as he is under contract to Leicester until 2023. When the time comes for him to move on, Wales international King believes there will be a virtually impossible void to fill.

"Everyone wants to know what the secret is or what he's like," King told Stats Perform.

"But he has no secret over things which he does. You guys know that because he's been telling everyone he drinks his coffee, drinks his Red Bull, he eats what he wants and then he goes out and scores two goals and runs around like a madman.

"What you see is what you get with him. Like with Wes [Morgan] and Kasper [Schmeichel], first and foremost he has great affection for the club, the people at the club and the owner.

"He's such a good guy to have in the changing room and to have off the pitch as well.

"The hole is going to be massive when he leaves Leicester. I think he's Leicester's best ever player. And that's before adding another trophy to the collection.

"He'll be a hard one to try replace when Leicester have to do that at some point."

On the other hand, Vardy's goalscoring mantle has arguably already passed, with the veteran playing a supporting role to the prolific Kelechi Iheanacho.

Vardy's 13 goals in the Premier League this term represent a joint-lowest return since he hit the same number in 2016-17, comfortably below the 23 he netted to win the Golden Boot last term.

But his nine assists represent a career best in the competition, matching his total from the past two years combined.

This can, in part, be attributed to a slightly altered role supporting Iheanacho in a 3-5-2 system - their lethal striker partnership taking Leicester to the brink of Champions League qualification, which can be secured in Tuesday's rematch with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The former Manchester City striker scored 20 times in all competitions across his previous three seasons at the King Power Stadium but he has exploded into life this time around, with 18 to his name.

Thirteen of those have come in his past 13 matches and King believes the 24-year-old's patience over the course of a lengthy acclimatisation process has been rewarded with more than just a new contract until 2024.

"When he first came in, he was in and out of the team," he said. "It must be hard adapting from Man City to go into another team where you're not going to get the chances laid on a plate for you and you're not going to have the ball for 80 per cent of the game. You've got to learn to do the other stuff as well.

"Kel was a really honest guy, he was trying really hard to learn the system. To start with, Leicester played a 4-3-3 with only one striker and Vards is always going to play.

"They changed the system when Harvey Barnes got injured, which was a big loss because he was playing really well. I don't know if Brendan said to him, 'Look, I'm going to go to a 3-5-2 and you're going to be my second striker, you know you're going to play'.

"If that was the case, he certainly rewarded the manager because for the second half of the season he has been absolutely outstanding. He's carrying Leicester at a moment to the top four, scoring goals when no one else was and his all-round play has always been good.

"Like, anyone when they're playing with confidence and knowing they're going to play the next game, it all falls into place. Strikers go on a hot streak and he's certainly on one of those at the moment."

Related items

  • Sacked Benitez did not realise 'magnitude of task' at Everton Sacked Benitez did not realise 'magnitude of task' at Everton

    Rafael Benitez said he did not realise the "magnitude of the task" at Everton after he was dismissed on Sunday following a run of just two wins in 14 games across all competitions.

    The Toffees announced Benitez's departure a day on from losing 2-1 to bottom side Norwich City.

    Former Liverpool boss Benitez was a divisive appointment at Everton when he was drafted in to replace Carlo Ancelotti in July.

    They started the season well, winning three of their first four league matches, yet injuries to key players and a dreadful loss of form has seen them slide down the table.

    A win over Hull City in the FA Cup third round offered Benitez a brief reprieve, but defeat to lowly Norwich on Saturday marked a new nadir, and Everton decided to act.

    Benitez cited injuries as a significant factor in their dismal form, and believed they would improve in the second half of the campaign. 

    "We knew it wouldn't be easy, and that it was a big challenge, both emotionally and in terms of sport," he said in a statement posted on his official website.

    "My love for this city, for Merseyside and its people, made me accept this challenge, but it is only when you are inside that you realise the magnitude of the task.

    "From the very first day, my staff and myself worked as we always do, with commitment and full dedication, we didn't only have to get results, but we also had to win over people's hearts.

    "However, the financial situation and then the injuries that followed made things even harder. I am convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings.

    "The road to success isn't easy and sadly, nowadays in football there is a search for immediate results and there is always less and less patience; unfortunately circumstances have determined the results and it won't be possible to continue this project."

    Benitez left the club after a mere 200 days, giving him the third-shortest reign of any Toffees manager in the Premier League with 40 or more days in charge. Only Sam Allardyce (167) and Dave Watson (60) were at the helm for fewer days.

    It was his fourth time in charge of a Premier League club and he departed with comfortably the worst win percentage ratio during his time in England.

    He won just seven of his 22 games in charge, leaving him with a win ratio of 31.8 per cent – significantly behind his records at Liverpool (55.4 per cent), Chelsea (58.3) and Newcastle United (42.5).

  • Atalanta 0-0 Inter: Nerazzurri's Serie A winning streak comes to a halt Atalanta 0-0 Inter: Nerazzurri's Serie A winning streak comes to a halt

    Inter's run of eight straight Serie A wins came to an end on Sunday as the reigning champions were held to a 0-0 draw by Atalanta.

    Simone Inzaghi's side won the Supercoppa Italiana in midweek with almost the last kick of the game, but there was no such drama at the Gewiss Stadium as the visitors missed the chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.

    Edin Dzeko was guilty of a glaring miss in the second half, with Inter failing to score in a league game for the first time this season. 

    The result means Inter remain top – two points clear of bitter rivals Milan – while Atalanta stay fourth, one point ahead of Juventus.

    Inter dominated possession in the early stages, but did not threaten the Atalanta goal until the 26th minute when Juan Musso superbly pawed away Alexis Sanchez's powerful strike.

    Atalanta had to wait until the 39th minute for their first effort on target, Matteo Pessina's header comfortably kept out by Samir Handanovic.

    The Inter goalkeeper denied Pessina again soon after the interval, racing off his line to thwart the forward after an incisive move from the hosts. 

    Dzeko's attempt was repelled by Musso at the other end and the 35-year-old inexplicably headed over from four yards with 20 minutes remaining. 

    Handanovic superbly denied Luis Muriel in the 80th minute after Alessandro Bastoni had been caught out, while Danilo D'Ambrosio squandered the opportunity to seal all three points for the visitors late on when he fired into the side netting with only Musso to beat

  • Algeria 0-1 Equatorial Guinea: Reigning AFCON champions suffer shock defeat Algeria 0-1 Equatorial Guinea: Reigning AFCON champions suffer shock defeat

    Algeria's Africa Cup of Nations title defence hangs in the balance following a 1-0 defeat by Equatorial Guinea.

    Esteban Obiang struck 20 minutes from time at Stade omnisport de Douala to lift the National Thunder to second place in Group E.

    The result also condemned Algeria to a first defeat in this competition since a 2-1 reverse against Tunisia in 2017, while they must now beat Ivory Coast in their final group game to have any chance of progressing to the knockout stages.

    Despite only enjoying 33 per cent of the possession, Equatorial Guinea had the better first-half chances. Oscar Siafa drew a smart save out of Rais M'Bolhi, while Iban Salvador's rasping long-range drive was just wide of the target.

    Algeria had the ball in the net at the other end, but Baghdad Bounedjah was denied by the offside flag.

    The Desert Warriors continued to dominate possession, but were hit by a 70th-minute sucker punch as a low corner was flicked on by Josete Miranda, before Obiang applied the finishing touch at the far post.

    Algeria pushed for the equaliser as the clock ticked down, but were unable to preserve their nine-match unbeaten run at the Africa Cup of Nations and are still seeking their first goal in this year's event.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.