Pearson hails Cambiasso impact
Leicester manager Nigel Pearson has offered high praise for the way Esteban Cambiasso has adapted to a relegation fight during his first year in English football.
Cambiasso has at club level become the most decorated player in Argentinian history, even winning more honours than Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano, over an illustrious career spanning 17 years.
But the 34-year-old has become entrenched in Leicester's culture since arriving on a free transfer last summer and even told reporters last month that helping the Foxes secure Barclays Premier League survival would feel like winning another piece of silverware.
The former Argentina international, who has previously played for Real Madrid, River Plate and Inter Milan, has been instrumental all season but particularly during the recent run which has brought six wins from the last seven matches and put Pearson's team three points clear of the relegation zone.
"His impact is difficult to quantify but it's been a very positive one, there's no doubt about that," said Pearson following Saturday's 2-0 victory over Southampton.
"If you take away the influence on other players and just look at his own performances, what he brings to the side in terms of his vision and game understanding, then I think he's been a fantastic addition to our squad.
"Also where he takes an awful lot of credit is for someone with the CV he has and the amount of trophies and, if you like, positive situations he's been in, to embrace a relegation battle in the way he has done I think gives you an indication of his professional outlook on his role within the squad.
"I couldn't give him any higher compliment than to recognise that.
"I know that if he was five years younger we wouldn't have him, or two years younger even. But I'm very pleased he's with us and that he's contributed fantastically to the team's plight and situation. He's dug in like everyone else has dug in."
Cambiasso is making Leicester wait over a new contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season, as he waits to see how the campaign pans out.
But Pearson would love to keep the 2010 Champions League winner.
"Of course I want him to stay but he's already pointed out that he wants to wait until the end of the season and that's fine. For sure we'd like to keep him," said the Foxes boss.
Southampton's defeat at the King Power Stadium came courtesy of another sluggish start and manager Ronald Koeman is becoming concerned by the trend.
Both Leicester goals came inside the opening 19 minutes.
It followed another slow start at Sunderland last week when Koeman's men also found themselves behind at the same stage of the match.
For most of the season, Southampton appeared capable of challenging for a place in the top four but their form has since tailed off.
Defeat to Leicester was a fourth successive away loss and extended Southampton's overall winless run to four games, all but ending their hopes of catching Liverpool in fifth place, with their campaign in danger of unravelling due to the poor run.
Koeman was surprised to see his team make the same mistake for the second straight match and the Dutchman wants it rectified against Aston Villa next time out.
He said: "The reason that we lost is because if you start a game like we did then it's very difficult to change it.
"Last week we had a big problem to start on a good level and today again. They [Leicester] had more spirit in the beginning.
"They're a strong team at the moment and full of confidence. It's a difficult place to come, but we made it more difficult.
"Still, there are two games to play. Next week we play at home and we need to finish on a good way for the fans.
"We expect to bring our level and to have the belief in ourselves. I think that's the difference in the last few games."