Jamie Vardy to Arsenal: Leicester striker to make decision after Euro 2016
Jamie Vardy has followed the wishes of England manager Roy Hodgson and put a decision on whether or not to join Arsenal on hold until after the European Championships.
Hodgson has also been assured that Vardy’s focus is fully on England and not his club future, with Leicester City and Arsenal battling over his services.
Arsenal sources have indicated the club are prepared to wait for Vardy’s decision, which could take as long as five weeks if England get to the final, although manager Arsene Wenger may still pursue other targets during the tournament.
The Gunners triggered Vardy’s £20million Leicester release clause last Friday in the hope they could complete a deal for the striker before he flew out for the Euros on Monday. That was never likely to be possible and, having arrived in France with England, Vardy has decided to put his club future on the back-burner until he returns home.
Hodgson did not make any personal demands of Vardy to either rush a decision or delay it, but had already informed the England squad that he wanted them fully focussed on the national team once they arrived at their training camp in Chantilly, northern France.
With that in mind, Vardy felt it was appropriate to inform Arsenal that he cannot give them a definitive decision until after the Euros.
Hodgson already allowed him time off to miss the Australia friendly to get married and Vardy is desperate to make the most of his first experience of a major international tournament and try to secure a place in the starting line-up.
Bizarrely, given the fact he is attempting to sign him, Wenger has claimed Vardy does not have the experience to start for England in France.
“I don't think that Vardy will be a starter,” said Wenger. “He has earned his place in the squad.
“I don't say this because he does not have the quality, but because he doesn't have enough experience at that level to say the whole tournament will depend on Vardy. Will he be there? Certainly.”
News of a delay over Vardy will dismay Arsenal fans and means Wenger must either wait for Vardy in the knowledge that he could still decide to remain at the King Power Stadium and could attract bids from other clubs by performing well at the Euros, or line up an alternative.
Arsenal have also looked at a move for Alvaro Morata, but Chelsea are now in pole position to land the £40m-rated Spain striker after opening talks over the 23-year-old who Real Madrid plan to buy back from Juventus and then sell on for a profit.
Vardy was unable to make the biggest decision of his career inside 48 hours following a whirlwind season in which he won the Premier League title with Leicester, was crowned the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year and was picked for the Euro 2016 squad.
Arsenal have offered the 29-year-old a contract worth over £100,000-a-week, but Leicester have made a counter bid of their own and have begged Vardy to stay put.
Manager Claudio Ranieri has personally called Vardy to ask him to stay at the King Power Stadium, while Wes Morgan, Robert Huth and Kasper Schmeichel have all been in touch to try to persuade the club’s star man to snub Arsenal.
Ranieri and his players have pleaded with Vardy to lead Premier League champions Leicester into next season’s Champions League and build on their stunning success.
Coupled with Leicester’s counter bid of a new contract, the words of his team-mates have clearly had an effect on Vardy, who is said to be genuinely torn over his next move.
Hodgson will be delighted that Vardy will not try to juggle the Euros with his club future. Only last week, the 68-year-old said: “The one thing this group of players know and have accepted is that when you are on England duty, you are on England duty.
“It is not a question of you sorting out your future, or diving off for medicals.
“We are not trying to block players' futures or transfers, but as far as we are concerned, our ongoing theme is that England is England, your club is your club. While you are with England we want you to stay focused on us.”
Leicester are still trying to sign Watford striker Troy Deeney, regardless of what happens over Vardy and, ideally, want the duo to play as a pair next season.
With Vardy’s future no longer threatening to become a distraction, Hodgson can work solely on preparing his England team for Saturday’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia.
Left-back Danny Rose appears certain to start the game after Ryan Bertrand missed another training session with a calf injury.
Bertrand was not deemed fit enough to take part in Tuesday’s full training session with the rest of the squad, but did manage to run around a different pitch with England physio Gary Lewin for around 30 minutes.
While Hodgson will have no fears of playing Rose against Russia, he will want all his defenders fit for as much of the tournament as possible after deciding to only select seven of them in his 23-man squad.
Other than Bertrand, there have been fitness issues regarding central defender Gary Cahill, who required an injection to alleviate a hip problem to play against Turkey and missed the Australia friendly because of the same issue.
Cahill played England’s final warm-up game against Portugal, although Hodgson is still thought to be undecided over his pairing at the back with John Stones pushing for a starting spot.