Arsenal ‘trying to lure Jamie Vardy away from Leicester City’
Arsenal are trying to lure England striker Jamie Vardy away from Premier League champions Leicester City in a move worth around £20 million (HK$225 million), British media reported on Friday.
Vardy scored 24 league goals as Leicester, 5,000/1 rank outsiders, were crowned champions of England last season, finishing 10 points in front of second-placed Arsenal, one of the Premier League’s established powers.
His club form saw Vardy force his way into England’s squad for the upcoming European Championship.
Signing Vardy, who is already 29, would mark a major change in Arsenal’s transfer policy under long-serving French manager Arsene Wenger.
But the Guardian newspaper said “the striker’s availability for a relatively modest fee, and the alternative option that he provides in attack with his searing pace, has fuelled the manager’s interest”.
However, it was only in February that Vardy signed an improved three-and-a-half-year contract with Thai-owned Leicester.
The Guardian said Leicester could offer Vardy a new deal if they think that is what it will take to keep him at the Midlands club.
It seems the forward now has a momentous decision to make. As well as being a key figure on the field, Vardy is also a well-liked member of the Leicester squad – the players celebrated their title-winning success with a party at his house.
However, he only became a full-fledged professional player in 2012, after nine years in non-league football, and if Arsenal are offering significantly more money than he’s getting at Leicester, Vardy could find it hard to turn down the Gunners.
Arsenal’s reported interest in Vardy led to plenty of social media comment.
Broadcaster Piers Morgan, a Gunners fan, tweeted: “Come on @vardy7 - let’s do this”, only for former Leicester and England striker Gary Lineker to urge the forward against a move to the north London club by replying: “Stay with the Champions @vardy7 don’t join the perennial also-rans.”
Lineker, like Vardy, was a leading scorer for Leicester in the English top flight. But his goals did not yield a title and he left to join Everton in 1985.
There was no immediate response from Leicester, Arsenal or Vardy’s management team.
Last month, Vardy indicated he had no desire to leave Leicester, saying: “We’ve just won the league and will be playing in the Champions League next year. I am happy here.”
But May also saw Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri say he would not stand in the way of any player who wanted to move on, although clearly the Italian would like to keep his title-winning squad intact.
“If they go away, it is not good for them. It is much better if they improve another year here and then go wherever they want,” said Ranieri.
“But I have said so many times if one player comes to me and says ‘Gaffer [manager], I want to go’, then I leave him to go because it is okay.”