Comparisons between the current Leicester City team and the one that astonishingly went all the way in 2016, shocking the football world to win the Premier League title, have been plentiful this season. Some claim Brendan Rodgers’ side are stronger than Claudio Ranieri’s legendary outfit ever were, it’s just that the Foxes have this season run into an even better team in Liverpool. Leicester had a clear run in 2015/16.
What is largely undeniable is that while the Foxes’ title triumph of 2016 had a sense of fluke, their success this season feels much more deliberate. Leicester City have, in many ways, become the model Premier League club, working the transfer market like few others can. Take the case of Harry Maguire, for instance - signed for £12 million, sold for £80 million and then seamlessly replaced by the impressive Caglar Soyuncu.
It’s not that they don’t spend money, it’s that every penny they do spend is an investment in the future. Leicester City splurged close to £100 million in the summer window and £19 million of that was attributed to the singing of Dennis Praet and the Belgian is now shaping up to be the Foxes' next great success story.
Praet has only started seven Premier League games for Leicester this season, but there are signs that the 25-year-old is settling into his new surroundings, scoring his first goal for the club in the defeat to Southampton at the weekend. In Youri Tielemens, Praet has stiff competition for his starting position, with the two Belgians performing similar duties, but the latter’s higher intensity and tempo potentially make him more of a Rodgers' player.
That Leicester were able to lure Praet from Anderlecht in the first place was quite the coup.
“I had three or four really good options,” the midfielder explained to The Guardian in a recent interview, talking about interest in him as a teenager. “We went to visit Arsenal, Lille, Ajax and Anderlecht. Arsenal would have been a really nice step and I could earn a lot more money there than in Anderlecht, but at that moment my education was not finished and that was really important for me - there was no insurance that I would become a good football player.”
Under Rodgers, Praet is now receiving a footballing education of the highest order and at Leicester City he has a platform to take the next step in his still fledgeling career.
At every club he has managed, Rodgers has harnessed young talent - see Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez and Moussa Dembele among others - and Praet now looks like his next project.