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Brendan Rodgers insists Leicester’s European fate will not affect summer targets

Newcastle United v Leicester City – Premier League – St. James’ Park
(Image credit: Owen Humphreys)

Brendan Rodgers believes Leicester will be in a position to sign the players they want this summer regardless of whether or not they qualify for Europe again.

Rodgers has told his players to park thoughts of next week’s Europa Conference League semi-final second leg against Roma to focus on Sunday’s trip to Tottenham, but a visit to north London will keep Europe on Leicester’s minds after Spurs ended their Champions League hopes on the last day of last season.

If the Foxes can see off Roma next week – the tie is balanced at 1-1 after Thursday’s first leg – they will have a chance to book a Europa League spot via the final in Albania on May 25. It is their only realistic hope of European football given the 10-point gap, albeit with two games in hand, to West Ham.

Leicester have qualified for the Europa League in each of the last two years, twice narrowly missing out on the top four, but Rodgers insisted it was not central to their recruitment pitch.

“Obviously people love to play in Europe but I’m pretty sure over their history Leicester City haven’t had too many issues signing players and the club has only been in Europe over the last few seasons,” he said.

“It’s never stopped the club signing good players before. We would love to be in Europe, but if not I still think we can attract a good level of player. It will bring us more coaching time next season and hopefully we can challenge again, so I don’t think it will be a massive blow.”

Leicester have invested significantly in their facilities off the pitch in recent years, most obviously in the £100million training ground that opened last year to the highest specification in Europe, meaning they have other ways of selling themselves to potential signings.

“I think firstly you’re playing in the most competitive league in the world and in a team that wants to be competitive,” Rodgers said when asked what would attract players.

“If you look at our recent history you can see what we’ve done. This season there have been lots of mitigating circumstances, but there’s the chance to come here and develop as a player at arguably the world’s best training facility in the world’s best league.

“You’re with a group of staff that wants to develop you as a football player in a real community club where you’ll be looked after and taken care of.

“Any organisation is about one thing – the people and how they’re treated. For me this is a club that stands alone for how it looks after players and staff and that is a real draw for players to come.”

Leicester’s bid to secure European football via the league has been hampered by a lack of consistency, caused in no small part by injuries and the Covid disruption, which means they are still playing catch-up on the clubs around them.

But Rodgers has taken great encouragement from their performances in the Europa Conference League, with the only disappointment on Thursday being that they did not take advantage of more of the opportunities they created.

“I was so pleased with the authority we had in the game (against Roma), playing against an experienced opponent that is used to European football,” he said.

“So many of our players haven’t had that, but gradually I see us grow in these types of ties, how we are developing with the experiences against Rennes and PSV. I see a maturity within the team.

“We’ve got some players who have hardly played in the Premier League, they might be making their first starts in the Premier League, so to go out and play with that authority and that quality makes me really, really pleased.”

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