Monday 20 November 2017

Leicester team mate tips Jamie Vardy to be a success at Arsenal

Leicester hitman Jamie Vardy
Leicester hitman Jamie Vardy

Jack De Menezes

One of Jamie Vardy’s Leicester team-mates believes that the England striker would be a success if he joins Arsenal, despite the move being left in the balance after Vardy failed to make his decision before he flew out to France with the rest of the England squad.

Shinji Okazaki believes that Vardy’s transition from Leicester to Arsenal – should he decide that the time is right to leave the Foxes – will be a seamless one because the rest of the Arsenal squad would be able to adapt and fit around Vardy’s game.

Having scored 24 goals in the Premier League this season as Leicester recorded an incredible title triumph, Vardy has found himself the centre of attention not just with fans but with rival clubs too. Arsenal activated his £20m buy-out clause in order to open negotiations with the 29-year-old, but a counter offer from Leicester as well as heartfelt messages from his team-mates pleading for him to stay has left Vardy with a difficult decision to make.

Arsenal had hoped to hear back from Vardy before he departed for France, but The Independent understands that the Gunners have not been contacted by Vardy or his representatives and the move could now be in doubt given that England manager Roy Hodgson has banned player agents from attending the team hotel during the Euros.

With Okazaki in Japan ahead of the national team’s Kirin Cup match against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday, the Leicester striker has tipped Vardy to be a success if he moves to the Emirates.

“I think he has the potential to adapt to any style of soccer. At Leicester, we just happened to play the way we did and he fit fine,” Okazaki told Kyodo News as quoted by the Japan Times.

“But even in a team that plays possession soccer, he has that sudden burst of speed and there are a lot of players at Arsenal who will notice that right away and play to that strength of his, like the way they did with (Danny) Welbeck.

“He’s not someone who only tries to get behind the defense, though. He picks his spots. Someone like me, I have to really get set up and then go but he can quicken instantly, go from zero to full speed. He can adjust to any style.”

Okazaki did concede that he did not know what he would do if he was put into the same situation, though he admitted that the possibility of winning the Premier League title with Leicester and Arsenal could prove the decisive factor in swaying Vardy to the Emirates.

“It is difficult to say what I would do if I were in his position,” Okazaki added.

“Arsenal have not won the league for a long time and that is maybe a dream (Vardy) has. He has won the league with Leicester and if he led Arsenal to the title rather than try and help Leicester defend it, then his stock would rise even further.”

Despite winning the title, Okazaki believes Leicester are not yet ready to compete with the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City when it comes to squad resources. Leicester used the least number of players in the league last season, and the Japan international believes that if the champions can hold on to Vardy as well as star players Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, they can up becoming regular title contenders in the near future.

“It’s not a decision that’s up to me, but he [Vardy] was very encouraging to have as a team-mate and I am sure he would do a fantastic job if he stayed with us this year too,” 30-year-old Okazaki said.

“But this is a life choice and every footballer has to make his own choices. If he goes, then hopefully other players will come in. If several players end up leaving it’s going to be a tough season for us, but I think Leicester understand that.

“We still don’t have the resources to stand toe-to-toe against the big clubs — yet. But if we can keep the squad together and ‘endure,’ as the manager always says, then we can move on from being surprise packages to legitimate contenders in England.”

Independent News Service

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