Leicester City have reportedly agreed a club record fee of £29.7m with Sporting Lisbon for Islam Slimani – with the forward due to leave Algeria’s training camp today to complete a medical and finalise the deal.
The Portuguese side were unsurprisingly hesitant to sell last season’s top scorer, initially demanding £34m for the 28 year old after Leicester bid £21m.
Negotiations eventually moved past this early impasse, with Claudio Ranieri keen to add Slimani to the side in order to bolster the team’s attacking depth in preparation for their fledgling Champions League campaign. Leicester’s improved bid of £29.7m – a club record – was enough to force Sporting Lisbon’s hand, with the cash-light Portuguese club unable to turn down the offer for their star striker.
Having been given the green light by both clubs, Slimani is expected to undergo his medical imminently, leaving Algeria’s training camp as they prepare for their upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The talented Algerian, who scored 27 goals in the Portuguese league last season as Sporting finished 2nd behind Benfica, and who scored in the Champions League in 2014/15, has caught the eye of several teams in the Premier League, Everton and West Brom included. However, the deal between Sporting Lisbon and Leicester seems to have passed its last sticking point, and looks set to go through without any further roadblocks.
Leicester have been monitoring Slimani for four seasons now, and were slow-playing the transfer process during this window – waiting until very late on to submit a serious bid for the striker. Their tactics seem to have paid off, and they will now be looking forward to the possible impact that the goalscorer will have on their team.
Having scored 48 goals in 82 league appearances at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, the forward may be just what the Champions needed as they look to move past their slightly shaky start to the season. They are so far averaging a goal a game in the Premier League – and although it is far too early in the season to draw any serious conclusions, they averaged almost twice that last season.
Slimani will bolster an attacking lineup that includes National teammate Riyad Mahrez, the club’s primary scorer Jamie Vardy, and Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa, who – at £18m – holds the club transfer record until Slimani’s fee officially changes hands. They will all be looking to make their mark on both the Premier League and Champions League this season, and will see the need to strengthen and add depth in order to challenge in more than one competition.
The Algerian’s arrival may herald the departure of the one-time talismanic Leonardo Ulloa, whose pursuit of more minutes will no doubt be derailed by the imminent appearance of Slimani at the club. With Vardy, Musa and Okazaki all ahead of Ulloa in the attacking pecking order at Leicester, the Argentine is unlikely to get many starts in the coming season, and looks set to move on.