Leicester Must Consider Selling Ben Chilwell - But Only for the Right Price

Ben Chilwell
Ben Chilwell has been linked with Manchester City and Chelsea recently | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Leicester City knew that failure to secure a top four finish would potentially signal the starting klaxon for a mass exodus of some of their top stars.

As expected, it's taken a matter of days for the first signs of unrest to rear their head - with Ben Chilwell reportedly planning on handing in a transfer request to speed along his imminent exit to Chelsea.

The Blues are not the only club interested with Manchester City keen and Manchester United also keeping an eye on proceedings. He's clearly an in-demand commodity but interestingly there has been fairly little pushback from Leicester fans about his imminent departure.

Ricardo Perreira, Ben Chilwell, James Maddison, Caglar Soyuncu
Ben Chilwell was forced to watch Leicester's final games of the season from the stands | Michael Regan/Getty Images

This is partly due to the one of the inescapable realities of supporting a non-big six side - your big players will leave for bigger things at some point. However, there is a feeling that Chilwell's departure may not be such a bad thing. This is a phenomenon that Foxes fans have become familiar with in recent seasons.

Although they have watched in horror in the past as the likes of N'Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez have been poached by larger sides, the Leicester faithful have also observed in quiet satisfaction when overvalued talents such as Danny Drinkwater and Harry Maguire left for inflated fees.

Is it fair to place Chilwell alongside Maguire and Drinkwater in this latter category?

The left-back was part of a sizeable crop of players to miss the Foxes' Premier League run-in through injury, with Ricardo Pereira, James Maddison and Caglar Soyuncu (suspension) also unavailable for the final games of the season.

Chilwell is somewhat of a media darling and although he is a talented player, most Leicester fans would agree that the England international's absence was the least harshly felt.

The defender earns the majority of his plaudits for his offensive work but there is a growing acceptance that he cannot cut the mustard defensively. Two cases in point were his calamitous performances against Liverpool and Manchester City over Christmas.

Over the course of both games he was dribbled past of six occasions, making exactly ZERO tackles vs dribbles across 180 minutes. He also completed just six successful pressures out of 36, which represents a success rate a shade over 16%.

This was his defensive nadir, although it can be partly excused as he was up against a rampant Trent Alexander-Arnold and a ravenous Mahrez in the space of a few games.

What is more worrying for his potential suitors is the ease with which other, less accomplished forwards have breezed past him this season. He was beaten on three occasions by an Aston Villa right-hand side consisting of Ahmed Elmohamady and Anwar El Ghazi back in March, while Adama Traore and Matt Doherty had him on toast several weeks earlier. Similar problems were present in games against Everton and Brighton in recent weeks when he was beaten a combined nine times.

Ben Chilwell
Chilwell is England's first choice left-back | Michael Regan/Getty Images

The emergence of Luke Thomas in recent weeks has also blown a hole in the notion that Chilwell is the best attacking full-back in the Leicester squad. In his three Premier League appearances, Thomas has been nothing short of a revelation, earning the man of the match gong on his debut against Sheffield United.

He's averaged over five shot creating actions per 90 minutes and one assist, albeit playing in a wing-back role as opposed to at full-back as Chilwell has all season. Thomas' SCA figures are more than double what his more senior counterpart has managed this campaign, suggesting that the 19-year-old might be an improvement, not just a replacement.

Clearly then, there are shortcomings in Chilwell's game but this is still a player with the third best shot creating actions record and second best progressive distance gained record of all the left-backs in the Premier League. So why then, should Leicester consider selling him?

Well, in an ideal world they wouldn't.

Luke Thomas
Luke Thomas has emerged as Chilwell's potential successor at Leicester | Michael Regan/Getty Images

But this isn't an ideal world. This is a post COVID-19 world and Leicester have an expensive, state of the art training facility to pay for and a summer recruitment drive to fund.

This, combined with the fact that Chilwell clearly wants to leave the club, means they will almost certainly end up parting with the player for the right price. With four years left on his current deal and Leicester skilled in the art of protracted transfer negotiations with the Premier League big boys, they may be able to secure a transfer fee as high as £80m - a record fee for a left-back.

Although they would be giving up a first team player, this would represent a ridiculously good piece of business that provides the Foxes with a platform to bounce back from this season's disappointments in the transfer market.