Champion League

Leicester made a huge mistake by selling striker who’s outperforming Vardy

Leicester City were in cruise control at the top of the Championship, sweeping past teams with relative ease and making a mockery of the division.

When the Foxes made it 11 wins from 12 with a 3-1 victory over Swansea City in October, they broke the record for the best start to a Championship season since the league rebranded in 2004.

Because of this, talk of Enzo Maresca’s side totalling the most points ever in a single second-tier campaign began to surface, however, consecutive 1-0 defeats against Leeds United and Middlesbrough have quelled those talks, at least for the time being.

In an all-star Leicester team, only one thing has remained a constant since his arrival in 2012, and that has been Jamie Vardy spearheading their charge towards success.

Jamie Vardy’s 23/24 statistics

At the age of 36, Vardy is no spring chicken anymore and of course, those once magical goal-scoring powers were going to suffer an alarming drop off one day.

In the past few seasons, the Englishman has lost a yard of pace and doesn’t get into scoring positions as often as he used to, but you never lose the knack of scoring goals, and the former Fleetwood Town striker has demonstrated that this term.



James-Justin-Jamie-Vardy

Although a return of four goals in 16 matches is underwhelming for someone who used to regularly break the 20-goal mark in one season – winning the Premier League Golden Boot in 2019/20 – Vardy still plays a crucial role in stretching opposition defences with his pace in behind.

A menace to play against physically and difficult to stop with his sharp movements, the veteran striker has made a career out of lurking on the last defender and pouncing at the chance to be sent through on goal.

Much like Wayne Rooney, Vardy possesses a street striker element to his game – never giving a defender a moment of peace – and wreaking havoc in the attacking third with his devastating finishing.

He’s accumulated a staggering 175 goals in 444 appearances for Leicester but given he’s soon to retire, the Foxes will forever rue their decision to sell Andrej Kramaric in 2016, who has since become a world-class finisher in the Bundesliga.

Andrej Kramaric’s goal record

Leicester broke their transfer record in 2015 when they shelled out £9m on a 23-year-old Kramaric from FC Rijeka.

Despite rigorously scouting the young Croatian, he immediately struggled to adapt to the intensity and demands of the Premier League – like many foreign exports – and only found the net four times in 20 appearances.

In truth, he just did not fit into City’s shape, or with their intense, pressing, relentless style and was never going to get in ahead of Vardy, for whom Leicester’s entire game was based around getting him in behind defences.



Bayern Munich's Joao Cancelo in action with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric

Indeed, Nigel Pearson, the man who brought him to the club, couldn’t fit Kramaric into the team and shipped him out on loan to Hoffenheim in the 2015/16 campaign.

Whilst the Foxes were celebrating their famous Premier League title triumph, the striker posted nine goal contributions in 15 matches for the Bundesliga outfit, so few were shocked to see Hoffenheim snap him up in the summer of 2016.

Now aged 32 and in his eighth season with the German side, Kramaric – much like Vardy – has become a goal-machine since departing the King Power, amassing a staggering 121 goals and 51 assists in 262 appearances for the club.

Goal records since Kramaric departed Leicester in 2016

Stat

Club appearances

Goals / Assists

Jamie Vardy

300

125 goals / 34 assists (159 G/A)

Andrej Kramaric

262

121 goals / 51 assists (172 G/A)

Stats via Transfermarkt

On the international stage, the 88-cap Croatia “genius” – as hailed by commentator Derek Rae – has had huge success too, reaching the World Cup final and semi-final in 2018 and 2022, respectively, including scoring the winner which knocked England out at the last four stage in Russia.

Leicester ultimately missed the chance to enjoy an elite European striker as his spell at the club overlapped with the time in which Vardy was at the peak of his powers, and not one supporter would change that for the world given the legendary status that the Englishman has achieved.

But considering that Kramaric has plundered six goals in nine matches this term and outscored Vardy, perhaps they would now take him back in a heartbeat.

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