Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal are first to make £30m move for Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy

By Simon Peach

Arsenal have reportedly met the release clause of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, thought to be in the region of £30m.

The 29-year-old, who scored 24 goals last season, agreed terms on a new three-and-a-half-year deal in February after attracting the courtship of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United over the course of the winter transfer window.

Vardy, who signed from Fleetwood Town for £1m in 2012, is reported to have the option to leave the King Power Stadium if any suitors match Leicester's valuation - and The Guardian says Arsenal did so last night.

Earlier reports state that Vardy did not insist on the clause being added but it nonetheless guarantees that Leicester could command a sizable fee while the England striker, on the other hand, is assured that he won't be kept against his will if he elects to leave.

Vardy is currently with the England squad ahead of the European Championship in France.

But his place in Roy Hodgson's starting line-up is in jeopardy after a frustratingly narrow 1-0 victory against Portugal at Wembley on Thursday.

But Gary Lineker has urged Vardy to commit his future to Leicester.

Former Leicester and England striker Lineker wants Vardy to stay at the King Power Stadium with Claudio Ranieri's side.

And in response to broadcaster Piers Morgan, who wrote on Twitter "Come on @vardy7 - let's do this", Lineker challenged Vardy to turn down the advances from north London.

He wrote: "Stay with the Champions @vardy7 don't join the perennial also-rans."

Vardy scored 24 goals in the Foxes' triumphant campaign, forging a brilliant understanding with Riyad Mahrez, who has been linked with Arsenal in the past. With Euro 2016 ahead, Vardy's focus has been on England duty in recent weeks but he may now have a major career decision to make before the finals.

The former Halifax and Fleetwood striker has enjoyed a rapid rise to the top of the game and signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract with Leicester only in February as the club rewarded him for driving their title bid.

Leicester were 5,000-1 shots to win the league at the beginning of the campaign but defied those odds to finish an astonishing 10 points clear of second-placed Arsenal. Vardy was playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels until 2010, and the prospect of joining one of England's biggest club sides could be difficult to turn down, despite Leicester's achievement in the last 10 months and his affection for the club.

Meanwhile, Leicester have completed their first signing of the summer, announcing the £2.6m capture of goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler from Hannover.

The 27-year-old has signed a four-year contract with the Premier League champions and is expected to provide cover for goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel ahead of their maiden campaign in the Champions League.

Operating as back-up for Manuel Neuer in the Germany set-up, making six caps, Zieler has continued to impress for Hannover since leaving Manchester United in the summer of 2010 - where he played alongside new team-mates Danny Drinkwater and Danny Simpson in the youth team. "It feels great coming to Leicester and joining the club after they've had such a great season - it's really nice to be part of the club now," Zieler said.

"I've been shown around the training ground and it looks very good and I've been to the stadium - I heard about the great atmosphere and the great fans, so my first impression is very good."

Ritchie de Laet and Matty James, meanwhile, could be set for the exit after reports suggested former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson is interested in taking them to Championship side Derby County.

Belfast Telegraph


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