A remarkable season sees the Foxes on the brink of the Premier League title but who has been the best player of a fairytale campaign? Cast your vote in our poll…
Leicester City’s turnaround in fortunes over the last 12 months has been nothing short of remarkable. The journey from near-certainties for relegation to Premier League survival in the 2014-15 campaign was one of the most noteworthy escapes in the division’s history but, less than a year later, the club are on the brink of securing a maiden top-flight title under a manager whose appointment was widely derided.
Any number of players could have been included in our three Player of the Year nominations due to the truly exceptional performances at the King Power Stadium. Having already secured qualification to next season’s Champions League, the Foxes will be thrust into unchartered territory but the East Midlands club may also be competing as the best team in England, defying their pre-season quotes of 5000/1 in the process.
While Claudio Ranieri’s side have had significant investment in recent years from their Thai owners, the fact that they have reached this stage without spending the eye-watering sums of money that their rivals regularly invest in the quest for domestic domination makes their achievements all the more remarkable. The fairytale rise has catapulted the club onto the global news agenda as they continue to sit atop the Premier League table.
With the Foxes set to win the Premier League title for the first time, who do you think has been their top performer in 2015-16? Goal has picked out three stars – vote for your favourite at the bottom of the page…
No rise to stardom encapsulates Leicester’s season more than that of Jamie Vardy. Already having undergone a remarkable transition from non-league football to Premier League regular at the King Power Stadium, the 29-year-old has become one of the division’s most prolific strikers this campaign with 22 goals.
After scoring just five times the previous term, the former Fleetwood Town frontman has become the first Leicester player to score 20 top-flight goals in a season since Gary Lineker in 1985. His run of scoring in 11 consecutive league games surpassed Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record as Vardy spearheads a team renowned for their high-tempo, counter-attacking style.
While Vardy’s goalscoring prowess has grabbed the headlines, the England international’s tally of 47 chances created and six assists have demonstrated a willingness to turn provider as he looks set to be part of Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016 this summer.
Plucked from Ligue 2 side Le Havre for just £400,000 in January 2014, Riyad Mahrez has attracted the attention of Europe’s most prestigious clubs with a series of match-winning performances this season. The 25-year-old has simply proved too hot to handle for the majority of Premier League defences with a dazzling combination of pace, skill and deadly accuracy in front of goal.
Mahrez’s 105 completed dribbles is the second-highest tally in the division and, with 16 goals and 11 assists to his name for the Foxes, the Algeria international’s exceptional all-round attacking play has been a cornerstone of his side’s success. The 25-year-old is widely expected to pick up the PFA Player of the Year award ahead of a summer which will surely see him presented with lucrative opportunities to ply his trade around Europe.
A summer arrival from Caen, N’Golo Kante has taken little time in adapting to the pace of English football. While plenty of praise has been drawn to the forward-focused members of the Foxes squad, the diminutive figure has provided the perfect foundation for his attack-minded teammates.
Leading the Premier League in tackles with 147 – 18 more than any other player – the 25-year-old Paris-born midfielder has also made a joint-league-high 135 interceptions in his 33 top-flight appearances to date, stopping the supply of opposition chances and giving players no time on the ball.
Kante’s ability to read the game and make a clean intervention for his side is highlighted by the fact that the France international has picked up just three yellow cards in a dominating spell of defensive masterclasses which have underpinned Leicester’s success.