Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri has revealed at a recent press conference that SSC Napoli midfielder Gokhan Inler is deciding whether to move to the Premier League or the Bundesliga, with Schalke 04.
The Foxes find themselves in need of replacements in central midfield following Esteban Cambiasso’s decision to sign with Olympiakos instead of extending his contract with Leicester City.
Following their dramatic survival in 2014-15, they managed to keep most of their talent that kept them up – however midfielder Cambiasso chose to play out his contract and not extend it for the following season.
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They have already signed French midfielder N’golo Kante from Caen, who had a great season in 2014-15, which will provide valuable cover for their squad. Kante is a box-to-box midfielder who contributes on the offensive and defensive end, with high stamina and tackling ability combined with ability to shoot from range.
What The Foxes currently lack is a taller midfielder who can impact the game from deeper areas - and Inler fits both of these pieces of criteria. The Swiss midfielder has long shooting capabilities and is able to pick out a pass from range, which makes him an influence from deeper on the pitch.
Leicester City play longer balls up to the strikers, and often play two up front, meaning that Inler would be able to pick out better passes than the midfielders before him in this context. In Serie A last year, he made limited appearances due to the emergences of young talents like Jorginho and David Lopez.
He made 30 appearances across all competitions, with a rating of 7.02 overall (according to whoscored.com). In 2013-14, however, he played a much bigger role in the Napoli squad in the Serie A, making 32 appearances in total, averaging a match rating of 7.24.
Inler is a midfielder who is successful without being reliant on his pace, and more than capable of playing in the centre. The Foxes have multiple areas of their squad that need strengthening if they want to stay up this season, and Inler looks like a great start.
He adds experience in central midfield – something Esteban Cambiasso added after coming from Serie A the previous season – and will likely play with Kante in a midfield two, if Leicester decide to buy him.
Schalke are allegedly in the discussion as far as Inler’s contract options, but Gokhan Inler is not the sort of player Schalke prefer to sign. They already have a plethora of options in central midfield, and they have a philosophy of signing younger players rather than bringing in already developed talent.
England looks like his more likely destination, and it makes sense for all parties. After three years in Naples he has been a crucial element of Napoli’s progress, however it would appear he is getting phased out as a new wave of talent comes into the club.
Leicester must continue to build after this signing, but if it is confirmed in the coming days it represents another good step towards progressing in the Premier League.