If you asked someone who doesn’t watch football to watch a Leicester City game and then asked them how old they thought Jamie Vardy was, there’s not a chance that they’d be able to guess that he’d recently turned 34. Such is the incredible intensity and determination that Vardy plays with, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a young star approaching the prime years of his career. Yet, unfortunately for Brendan Rodgers, that is not the case for the former England man and instead Vardy is closing in on the twilight of his career. Despite this, Vardy still boasts 11 Premier League goals this season and can claim to be one of the main men in a vastly impressive Leicester side that doesn’t seem too far off challenging for the title in this bonkers season. Not bad for an old timer – however, he himself will admit that this won’t continue forever and although his ability on the pitch doesn’t seem to be diminishing, his ability to stay fit does seem to be. With this in mind we had a look at 5 potential replacements that could fill the Jamie Vardy sized hole that will be left when he calls it a day.
The first name on our list is PSV’s Donyell Malen. The 22-year-old, previously of the Ajax and Arsenal youth setups, has developed into a fine young striker and has represented the Netherlands national team at every level, including 6 caps at senior level. Malen can boast tremendous speed and also plays with real intensity, something Leicester City fans are used to with Vardy. The Dutchman has 7 goals in 13 league appearances at the time of writing and looks to be nearly ready to make the step up to the next level.
Malen may find it hard to settle into the Premier League but with Vardy not quite gone yet, a back up role would be perfect before he eventually succeeds the serial goalscorer. The PSV forward is far from an undiscovered gem so Leicester could face some competition, but would still back themselves to secure his signature. Still only 22, Malen has plenty of room to develop further and would signal a clever signing who could fill Vardy’s boots for years to come.
Next up is a player who has been linked with West Ham in recent months, RB Salzburg’s Patson Daka. Daka is one of the latest stars to emerge from the goldmine that is RB Salzburg’s team and would be a perfect replacement for Vardy. His blistering place and direct style are incredibly similar to Vardy and his ability to make smart runs in behind only further increases this likeness. Daka is another player already having a fantastic season and Leicester would do well to pounce before they’re forced to compete with a whole host of other sides to sign the Zambian.
The former African Youth Player of the Year made headlines last year when terrorising Liverpool in a preseason friendly and could give other Premier League defences similar nightmares. Daka’s agent is former West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur forward Freddie Kanouté, who will no doubt be pushing for the Zambian to prove himself against the world’s best. Daka would suit Premier League football very well and even if he doesn’t prove to be Jamie Vardy’s successor, he should soon find himself in a top side nonetheless.
Completing a trio of young, promising forwards is a young Swede by the name of Alexander Isak. Isak is someone who football fans might have already heard of after his move to Borussia Dortmund in 2017. He joined the German side with a huge amount of hype surrounding him after setting the record for the highest fee received for a player from the Swedish League at around €9m.
Unfortunately for Isak, it didn’t work out for him at Dortmund and he has now found himself at high flying Spanish side, Real Sociedad. The Swede has 6 goals in 13 starts in the league this year and is only likely to get more starts as the season goes on, with the departure on loan of Willian Jose to Wolves. Isak isn’t quite the complete player yet and still has some way to go in his development but with Vardy not quite bowing out yet, Isak will have time to develop further and settle into a new league once more.
More of a move for the future, Leicester could look to secure Isak’s services and hope that he would be able to follow in the footsteps of another certain Swede named Zlatan, whilst emulating Vardy’s incredible achievements at the club.
Bucking the trend somewhat, in that he cannot boast such youth as his counterparts on this list is Torino’s Andrea Belotti. Still only 27 years of age, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was pushing into his 30s with the incredible amount of goals he’s scored over the years. Nicknamed Il Gallo, or in English ‘The Rooster’, Belotti has become a club legend in Italy, netting over 100 goals for Torino. An experienced international too, the Italian can boast over 30 caps for the national side as well as being in double figures for goals as well.
Belotti may be hard to prise away from Torino, but would probably be the most ambitious signing on this list. Unlike the others noted so far, Belotti’s impact would likely be instant and it would come as no surprise to see him continue his fantastic scoring record over in England. A fantastically talented forward, Belotti has a lot of strings to his bow and his excellent work rate would absolutely help soften the blow of losing the terrier-like Vardy. This move could require a hefty fee, but would represent a signal of intent that Leicester are there to stay amongst the Premier League’s top 6.
Finally, we have a player who Brendan Rodgers has already worked with, Odsonne Edouard. The Frenchman has become a fan favourite in Scotland with Celtic and despite being only 23 years of age, has over 75 goals for the Scottish side. Although many question the competitiveness of the Scottish league, this goalscoring record is made all the more impressive by the fact that Edouard is still only a young player and was hitting these big numbers so early in his career.
Having already managed Edouard, Rodgers will know what he’s all about and this could work in the Foxes favour as they may be able to use their manager’s pull to steal him from the Scottish Champions. Edouard signed for a fee rumoured to be around the £8m mark, however, it would probably take triple that to secure his signature for Rodgers. Having been at Celtic since 2017, Edouard looks ready to test himself at the top level and would be sensible to do so with someone whose trust he has already earned.
Although Jamie Vardy is still alive and kicking (literally!), Leicester do need to have one eye on the future as his injury problems seem to be beginning to mount. They will likely get quite a few more goals from him yet, however, they would be sensible to start planning for a future without the club legend now.
Who do you think would be the best replacement for Jamie Vardy at Leicester? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!