Brendan Rodgers cannot guarantee Leicester City will keep hold of their star players, however “amazing” the club is. The City manager hopes this to be the first summer since the title win where the club do not say goodbye to one of their key men, having sold N’Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater, Riyad Mahrez, Harry Maguire, and Ben Chilwell over the past five summers. But although Rodgers believes City have developed an environment at the club in which to help convince players to stay put, there are limits on what they can do to battle against the lure of the very top sides.
Brendan Rodgers said: “I’m a realist. I’ve worked at big clubs and I understand the pull. It’s not just about the club, it really is about the player. We want to be in a position where we can establish ourselves as a top club. We want to shift the mindset to us being a top club and you only do that by consistently performing and playing well. If you can do that, you maybe have a better opportunity but the reality is that players will earn more money playing for other clubs, and they will be ‘so-called’ bigger clubs than Leicester City. Leicester City is an amazing club. What a club to come to, where the facilities are world class, there is an opportunity with a manager who wants to develop you and help you try to achieve your dream, and a support base who will be very supportive. But there are other factors. The best teams in the world will lose players. Real Madrid will lose players. I’m not going to sit here and be naive enough to say this is the best club in the world, that we shouldn’t lose anyone, and then start crying when they go somewhere else. The reality is it’s an amazing club. We have a spirit here and a culture that allows for development. You can do no more than that. If the player is improving and is on a great contract, then it’s going to be about what they want as well. In the two summers I’ve been here we’ve lost two top players. It’s having a pipeline there that if they do go… it’s about the collective. That may happen and you have to anticipate. It’s about preparing going forward and that ensures the continual development of the club. You can cope with losing top players.”
If players do leave, City will want to get good prices for them. They have done that in the past, with the five big departures over the past five summers raking in more than £250m for the club. Getting those players on good contracts helps City’s stance when it comes to negotiations. It’s also a case of the club showing how highly they value their players, and Rodgers believes fresh deals with improved terms could be offered in the summer, with talks already under way with influential midfielder Youri Tielemans.
Brendan Rodgers added: “It’s one where of course you want to keep your best players, and if you have them in a contractual situation then you’re in a stronger position. However, if a player is really desperate to leave and he’s still in a strong contractual position, for me, you never want to keep players that don’t want to be here. Hunger is so important. If players are hungry and they’re coachable and they want to learn, then that’s the formula that allows you to progress as a club. I learned through experience and more knowledge around situations that have arisen in my career that to keep a player who genuinely doesn’t want to be here is counter-productive. For us, the club have always dealt really well with that. They will always look to improve the contracts of players where they possibly can. It may be the case that in the summer we look to do that.”
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