Brendan Rodgers has insisted Leicester will not be “exploited” as Premier League rivals continue to chase their players. Chelsea intend to test Leicester’s firm stance that Wesley Fofana is not for sale and Newcastle plan likewise with James Maddison, having had a bid rejected last week of about £40m. Rodgers said that “might just cover three-quarters of his left leg”. Newcastle returned on Monday to make a bid of more than £45m for Maddison, with add-ons taking the deal to £50m.
Leicester also expect Arsenal to move for Youri Tielemans but are yet to receive any offers for the Belgium midfielder.
Leicester, despite Rodgers’ keenness to shake up his squad by signing a centre-back and a right-winger, are the only club in Europe’s top five major leagues yet to make a signing and are in a tricky position where they need to sell before they are able to strengthen. They are, though, determined to retain their prized assets.
Thomas Tuchel has identified Fofana as his first-choice centre-back target after losing out to Barcelona in the race to sign Jules Koundé from Sevilla and failing to re-sign Nathan Aké from Manchester City. Newcastle are keen on Maddison, though Rodgers is adamant neither player is for sale. Newcastle are thought to have inquired about the Leicester winger Harvey Barnes as well.
“There is, obviously, within the club a financial situation which isn’t ideal in terms of wanting to do business,” Rodgers said. “It doesn’t mean we will be exploited and we don’t want to be losing our best players. You don’t want to lose your best players and then not be able to bring any in. That doesn’t stack up.
“With James, he is looking the best he has in my time here. His level of confidence, physicality and a player of that talent – there will be interest. He is a joy to work with. I love him as a young guy, seeing him grow from when I first came in to a 25-year-old father; seeing him change in life and his football life. He is really pivotal to us. There is no way I would want to sell him.”
Leicester are yet to receive a bid for Tielemans, who is out of contract next summer, but are aware of Mikel Arteta’s longstanding interest. Their captain Kasper Schmeichel is expected to depart this week, with Nice keen on the Denmark goalkeeper.
Schmeichel’s exit would mean the Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward competing with another Dane, Daniel Iversen, who spent the past two seasons on loan at Preston, for the No 1 spot.
“I know him [Ward] from Liverpool,” Rodgers said. “I’ve always said we’ve got a No 1 keeper there. He’s had some issues around his knee but that looks to be behind him now, he’s been training well.”