Belfast Telegraph

Leicester prepared to break transfer record in bid for Champions League return

Leicester are ready to break their transfer record again as they seek a Champions League return.

The outgoing champions are eyeing European qualification next season with boss Craig Shakespeare admitting they must aim high.

After winning the Premier League the Foxes broke their transfer record three times last summer, buying £13million Nampalys Mendy, Ahmed Musa for £16million and Islam Slimani for £30million.

Shakespeare attended a recruitment meeting on Thursday and confirmed the Foxes, linked with Middlesbrough's Ben Gibson, would be prepared to break the bank again.

He said: "There could be (a chance). You look at the players out there, the Premier League is the place to play.

"A lot of players will want to come to this country, But it's down to the individual clubs to sort their own recruitment out. The squad doesn't need major surgery, I think it'll be minimal. I expect a few going and a few coming."

Shakespeare is still waiting for contract talks, with his deal as manager expiring at the end of the season, but would not be afraid to help shape the club's transfer policy even with the uncertainty over his position.

"You're in those meetings to give your opinion, that's what you're asked," he said. " It's about not always agreeing but then backing your argument up with why this player wouldn't be suitable.

"You have to have your own opinions, there might be five people in the room with four different opinions. If you get that recruitment right, you have more of a chance of succeeding."

Leicester go to Manchester City on Saturday without midfielder Danny Drinkwater after he was ruled out for the rest of the season with a thigh injury.

Shakespeare is looking for his eighth win in 11 league games and the Foxes would be in the top four if the season started when he took over in February .

Only Tottenham and Chelsea have earned more points in that time and Shakespeare believes his men could maintain that record over a season, which would mean a return to the Champions League .

"You'll always get a loss of form, injuries, but generally the squad can maintain that," he said.

"They know what it's about in terms of winning matches and being competitive, you have to aim high. You can't have any free games, we have to be competitive in every one."

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