Leicester's Brendan Rodgers signs new six-year deal amid Arsenal interest
Brendan Rodgers has underlined his long-term commitment to Leicester City after signing a new six year deal as the club moved quickly to ward off interest from Arsenal.
The Gunners had identified the Carnlough man as a potential replacement for axed Unai Emery but the title-challenging Foxes were in no mood to relinquish the man behind their upturn in form.
The new contract, stretching until 2025, features an improvement on his £5m-a-year salary but also includes an increased release clause after the £14m figure in his initial deal was widely reported amid Arsenal's growing interest.
Rodgers had always maintained his commitment to the club throughout speculation linking him with a switch to the Emirates but Leicester have moved to ensure he will be staying at the King Power Stadium.
“It was a very easy decision,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been speaking about over the past few weeks. I’ve loved my time here. The club has been brilliant. Even though I’ve only been here since February, everything has fit great.
“When I made the decision to come to Leicester, it was because I was excited about the direction the club was taking and how I could apply my experience to the journey. I came here with a purpose to add something to that and to help the club build for the future. We’ll continue to work together to bring success to Leicester City for many years to come.”
Leicester chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha underlined the natural fit between club and manager.
“Brendan’s qualities as a coach are well-known and evident in the way he has sought to unlock the potential in every member of our exciting young squad," he said.
“But just as important to us is the suitability of Brendan’s wider philosophy to the Club’s established culture and values. He and his staff immersed themselves immediately, building an understanding for the club and the city and an appreciation for what makes them special."
When Rodgers arrived at Leicester, the club had gone seven matches without a win, losing six in that run. They were just eight points off the Premier League's relegation places.
Fast forward little over nine months and Leicester are the closest challengers to early pace-setters Liverpool, having won 11 of their opening 15 league games.
The initial goal of securing European football already seems a given and with fifth-placed Wolves already 12 points behind, a Champions League berth is more than a possibility.
The immediate impact made by Rodgers was an understandable attraction for Arsenal, who are way down in 10th position and already 10 points off the top four.
While Rodgers is keen to credit his 'amazing' staff, not least former Liverpool defender Kolo Toure, James Justin shone a light into the impact of the boss himself on the dressing room after Wednesday's 2-0 win over Watford.
The Foxes had been held to 0-0 in the first-half but the full-back, making his Premier League debut, said Rodgers had a firm hold on the team's mentality as he prepared them to secure a 2-0 win with goals after the break.
“He was calm, cool and collected,” said Justin of the half-time team talk.
“He doesn’t need to raise his voice to hold a room. He’s one of those guys that has authority.
“He told us to stay calm and play the football that we know we can. “He barely (ever raises his voice). Once in a couple of months and that’s it. He’s always level-headed.
“That shows on the pitch with the way the guys play. We never panic and that all comes from the boss.”
Justin is the ninth player aged 23 or under to feature for Leicester in the Premier League this season.
And the young stars beginning their top flight careers will no doubt welcome the news that their commander-in-chief has committed his long-term future.
Belfast Telegraph Digital