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Leicester squad audit: De Cordova-Reid, Golding and Okoli in but plenty out and gaps to fill

Leicester squad audit: De Cordova-Reid, Golding and Okoli in but plenty out and gaps to fill

When Leicester City chief executive Susan Whelan said the effects of relegation to the Championship would be felt for some time, she was not exaggerating.

She also told the club’s staff that it would be business as usual, but in terms of the squad and the club’s approach to recruitment, it has been anything but.

The squad has undergone a major overhaul, with 10 players leaving at the end of their contracts and inevitable sales of key players.

Ambitions had to be tempered and the club’s approach to the transfer window had to be more pragmatic, with profit and sustainability rules (PSR) being a major factor in the club’s approach.

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There are still some familiar faces, but the squad that makes its Premier League debut on August 19 will have a very different look to the one that arrived in the Championship, especially in midfield and attack.

Director of football Martyn Glover, who brought Abdul Fatawu to the attention of former manager Enzo Maresca, new manager Steve Cooper and director of football Jon Rudkin still have plenty of work to do between now and the end of the summer window to get Leicester ready for the challenge ahead.

Here, The Athletic audit the Leicester squad as it stands…


Goalkeepers

Mads Hermansen (contract expires in 2028)

The Danish international was considered Maresca’s most important signing of last summer due to his ability on the ball as well as his all-round defending. Hermansen, who turns 24 today, has certainly enhanced his reputation and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if there was interest from other clubs in signing him.

Cooper may not be required to play exactly the same way, but he is expected to be their first choice when the season starts.

Jakub Stolarczyk (2026)

The Polish goalkeeper has emerged as the number two under Maresca and has been highly regarded by the coaching staff. Like Hermansen, he displays many of the modern characteristics of a goalkeeper and has come through the youth ranks.

He will have to impress Cooper and new goalkeeping coach Danny Alcock in pre-season.

Daniel Iversen (2025)

Iversen was given the chance to step up two years ago as Leicester were heading for relegation and he did not disappoint, but his more traditional skill set did not suit Maresca’s vision and he ended up on loan last season at Stoke City and faced an uncertain future.

There will be no shortage of Championship clubs interested in Iversen, who has just one year left on his contract, should Leicester consider selling him. That could well be a good option.

Danny Wing (2025)

It was a frustrating time for Ward at Leicester. He must have thought he was being recruited to replace Kasper Schmeichel when Leicester paid £12m for his services in 2018. He then had to wait almost four years to make his Premier League debut for the club and when he finally broke through, following Schmeichel’s departure, it was in the disastrous relegation season.

He didn’t make any appearances last season and Cooper probably won’t want to carry four goalkeepers in his squad this season. It might be time for a fresh start.


Ward playing for Wales last month (Christian Hofer/Getty Images)

Defenders

Ricardo Pereira (2026)

After a few years of injury problems, Pereira played more minutes than he did in any other campaign for Leicester last season. The right-back took on a new role and moved into midfield last season, and even played as a No. 8 on occasion. His versatility and leadership after becoming captain were important last season and he is expected to play an equally significant role under Cooper.

James Justin (2026)

Much like Pereira, Justin proved his recovery from serious injuries last season and, while he wasn’t always first choice under Maresca, he could play a more prominent role under Cooper, especially if he switches to a back three as a left-sided centre-back or wing-back. He will be looking to put himself back in the England picture.

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Victor Kristiansen (2028)

The Danish left-back signed a long-term contract when he arrived from Copenhagen 18 months ago, but the arrival of Maresca after relegation has thrown his future into doubt as the Italian had little use for conventional full-backs.

He had a good season on loan at Bologna and forced his way into Denmark’s first team for the European Championships, but Bologna are unlikely to be able to meet Leicester’s asking price to make the move permanent. He will return to Leicester with a clean sheet.

Lucas Thomas (2026)

Similar to Kristiansen, Thomas was loaned out last season, first to Sheffield United and then to Middlesbrough, but the academy graduate’s future looks uncertain. It’s set to be a big pre-season for the left-back.

Wout Faes (2027)

The Belgium international was one of the players who may have thought he would move on after relegation, but he stayed to play a key role in promotion. In fact, it felt too easy for him at times, leading to a few lapses in concentration, but he insists he is happy at Leicester now they are back in the Premier League.

Conor Coady (2026)

The England international will have been disappointed with his lack of minutes last season, having been relegated to the Championship to seemingly play a key role in the promotion push, only to suffer an injury in pre-season.

However, his experience could see him play a more prominent role under Cooper and his influence in the dressing room should not be underestimated.


Conor Coady with chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha after winning the championship (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Harry Souttar (2028)

Like Kristiansen, Souttar paid the price of relegation and the arrival of Maresca, but unlike Kristiansen, he chose to stay and compete for a place at Leicester, even rejecting loan opportunities.

But like everyone else, he has a fresh start under Cooper, who will be the fourth manager he has played under in just 18 months.

Jannik Vestergaard (2027)

What a remarkable turnaround. Vestergaard was expected to leave after falling out with Brendan Rogers, only to become a key figure under Maresca and earn another three-year contract. But then Maresca left for Chelsea and it remains to be seen how big a role the big Dane will play under Cooper, with Leicester hardly dominating possession in as many games as they did in the Championship.

Well Nelson (2027)

The academy graduate was promoted by Maresca from the under-21s last season and was even preferred at times over Coady because of his athleticism and ability on the ball. But this looks like it could be a huge season for the 20-year-old, who recently played for England’s elite development squad. There is no shortage of clubs keeping an eye on his progress and development.

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Caleb Okoli (2029)

The Italy Under-21 international has stated that he has always dreamed of playing in the Premier League and now he can fulfil his dream following his £13 million ($16.7 million) move from Atalanta. His arrival is another indication of Leicester returning to a policy of trying to sign promising players who they can develop and turn into assets that will eventually return a profit.


Midfielders

Harry Wink (2026)

Winks took a big risk in leaving the Premier League to start his career under Maresca and, although it paid off with promotion, he will be disappointed to see Maresca leave for Chelsea.

But he is back in the Premier League and Cooper will be looking to reassure him that the style of play will not be too different to Maresca’s approach, which emphasised Winks’ ability on the ball.

Hamza Choudhury (2027)

Choudhury has progressed under Maresca, having looked set to move on under Rodgers, even joining Watford on loan for the 2022-23 season. He was handed a new contract last September.


Hamza Choudhury at the Leicester parade in May (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Boubakary Soumare (2026)

Having won the Ligue 1 title with Lille, Soumare has struggled to make an impact in the Premier League over two seasons with Leicester and has looked lacking in confidence. He enjoyed a good season on loan at Sevilla last season and the Spanish side were reportedly interested in making the move permanent, but they cannot afford Leicester’s asking price or Soumare’s full salary, so he will return for pre-season.

With Leicester short of midfielders following the sale of Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and the exits at the end of their contracts of Dennis Praet and Wilfred Ndidi, Soumare could have another fresh start under Cooper.


Foward

Bobby DeCordova-Reid (2027)

After arriving on a free from Fulham, De Cordova-Reid has signed a three-year deal and will provide some Premier League experience to relatively inexperienced options in positions open to Cooper.

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Kasey McAteer (2025)

Academy graduate McAteer broke through last season, making 26 appearances and scoring seven times, but this will be a big step up for him to the Premier League level. That hasn’t stopped him being linked with a host of clubs, including some in the top flight.

Wanya Marcal (2026)

Another homegrown talent emerged last season, although he didn’t feature as much as McAteer, making just three appearances in the Championship. That earned him a new contract, however, but a loan move to gain experience may be better for his development.

Abdul Fatawu (2029)

One of the most important signings of the summer, Fatawu was a revelation last season on loan from Sporting CP. He negotiated his release from the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ghana FA so he could stay at Leicester and trigger the clause for a permanent deal by making the required number of appearances. The £14m fee took up a large chunk of the club’s transfer budget, but he is an investment for the future.


Abdul Fatawu impressed last season (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Stephy Mavididi (2028)

It has been a long but interesting journey for Mavididi to finally make it to the Premier League, from the Arsenal academy, through to Charlton Athletic, Preston North End, Juventus, Dijon and Montpellier. Now he can show what he can do at this level.

Michael Golding (2028)

Golding has made just one professional appearance, totalling nine minutes, but Leicester see the £5million they paid Chelsea for the England Under-18s captain as another investment for the future.

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Jamie Vardy (2025)

The club legend and talisman feels fit enough to continue and has signed a one-year contract extension for this season. Whether this will be his last season remains to be seen. But Vardy does not feel ready to hang up his boots just yet.

Patson Daka (2026)

Leicester have a decision to make over the Zambia international, who nearly joined Bournemouth last season only for the deal to be called off at the last minute as another deal fell through. Daka enjoyed a good spell either side of the Africa Cup of Nations but struggled in the second half of last season.

Tom Cannon (2028)

Cannon has had to be patient so far in his Leicester career after signing from Everton last summer. He made just 16 appearances last season and Cooper is expected to look to bring in another striker this summer to bolster his options.

(Top photos: From left to right, Bobby De Cordova-Reid and Caleb Okoli; via Getty Images)