He may have only signed a new Leicester City contract a few months ago, but the future of Premier League-winning striker Jamie Vardy is already in doubt.
Having negotiated a deal with a release clause for Champions League clubs, Vardy has already seen Arsenal act upon that option even at this early stage in the summer. For a fee in the region of £20 million, he will be a Gunner should he decide to accept the North Londoners’ contract offer.
However, given his success at Leicester and their impending Champions League debut, the question as to whether he should accept a new offer from the Foxes remains.
In this week’s #360debate, we ask: Should Jamie Vardy join Arsenal?
Now that the fanfare surrounding Leicester City’s still scarcely believable Premier League triumph has died down, Jamie Vardy needs to be pragmatic and think of himself.
He has just enjoyed the season of his life, netting 24 league goals in a campaign in which the unfancied Foxes lived the dream. Even though the romance will continue when they grace the Champions League next season, they will never top 2015/16, so it is the right time for Vardy to move on. If anyone has earned a move to a truly big club, then it is him.
The Foxes’ Champions League adventure is in all likelihood just a one-season affair, while Arsenal haven’t finished outside the top four under Arsene Wenger.
Six years ago he was playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels in the eighth-tier of English football. Plucked by Halifax Town before moving onto Fleetwood Town and finally Leicester, Vardy has made the most of every opportunity.
However, if he wants to write any more chapters in his Roy of the Rovers-esque story, the sensible move is to Arsenal.
Vardy is 29. Only in recent mths that he's become a big earner in Prem Lge terms. Can totally understand if he goes for best financial deal.— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) June 5, 2016
Unlike Foxes team-mates Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, both 25, time is not on Vardy’s side. He will turn 30 in just over six months and having risen from the darkest depths of the game, he can be forgiven for thinking that if he doesn’t take his shot now he will never get another one.
Vardy is surely comfortably off but his late arrival at the top of the game means a huge contract with the Gunners will be life-changing for him and his family.
His lethal form this season has also cemented his England spot. Just like he has done throughout his career, he has taken his early chances on the international stage too, netting three goals in his first four games. His chances of maintaining his stay in the Three Lions set-up will also be greatly assisted by a move to the Emirates.
Good players thrive alongside other good players and with all due respect to Andy King and Marc Albrighton, they are not Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez.
Vardy will back himself and so he should. He can’t turn this down.
In December 2014, Wilfried Bony was the Premier League’s top-scorer for the calendar year with 17 goals for Swansea.
His form and the hype that surrounded him at that time attracted the attention of clubs much bigger than the Welsh side.
He joined Swansea in 2013 on a four- year contract from Vitesse Arnhem for a then club-record fee of £12 million and finished his first season with 25 goals. He was, without question, one of Swansea’s greatest goal scorers and then came the temptation of a big club when Manchester City moved in with a £25m offer and a salary of £100,000 a week.
It proved irresistible but perhaps he should have looked more closely at what he was getting into – a club where, with all due respect to Swansea, he faced competition for places from far superior players and, not surprisingly, he found himself playing a supporting role to Sergio Aguero.
This powerhouse of a player who was so successful at Swansea virtually disappeared o the radar and when he did play, you could see his confidence had been demolished. His dream move had become a nightmare.
He scored 35 goals in 70 appearances for Swansea. At City, he’s scored 10 in 46, is now sur- plus to requirements and could be on his way back to Swansea.
I recount the Bony story because Jamie Vardy is in danger of falling into the same money-lined trap if he joins Arsenal. Yes, he had an awesome season and yes, you can’t blame him for wanting to join a bigger club and, at the age of 29, make the most of his career while he can.
He is a hero at Leicester and part of a team with an incredible togetherness who are about to defend their title and play in the Champions League.
To turn his back on that, and Leicester’s fans, in the belief that he will be just as successful at Arsenal where the pressure of expectation will be far greater and where he will have to prove he is indeed a £20m-plus player is a huge risk.
One fairytale season doesn’t guarantee success at a bigger club. Just ask Bony.