Paul Merson believes Leicester will only finish as high as 10th in 2016/17 as they try to juggle the demands of Champions League football and their defence of their Premier League title.
The Foxes sealed a memorable first-ever English top-flight title on Monday night after Tottenham’s draw with Chelsea, having been backed for a relegation battle at the start of the season.
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Speaking to Sky Sports, Merson doubts Leicester will be able to repeat their heroics when they look to defend their title next season.
“If they finish in the top six next year, I’ll be flabbergasted,” he said. “I think they’ll finish 10th.
“What they’ve done is unbelievable, every one of these players has worked their socks off, every single day of the week, every week.
“But they’re in the Champions League next year as well, so there’s eight league games when they’ll be more concentrated on that, in my opinion. It’s pointless getting into the Champions League then playing your best team in the Premier League on Saturday, then Tuesday you’re going wherever and getting beaten.
“That’s no disrespect, they’ve won the league but I’d be shocked if they finished above mid-table next year. Even if it’s 17th, it wouldn’t be too bad!
“The Champions League is going to be such an experience for them, but it will be hard. It’s a massive ask, but I have to wait and see the group before judging how they’ll do. To get a result away in the Champions League is very difficult whoever you are, but they won’t be the worst team in it, no chance.
“I don’t know who they can bring in. They’re going to have to use all of Ranieri’s experience bringing in players that other people don’t know about and aren’t going for. They aren’t going to get a player that Manchester City and Manchester United are trying to sign, even though they’re champions.
“I think their business will be done very quietly and very quickly, they won’t mess about. They’re probably doing it right now as we speak. That’s how they’ll have to work, there’s no doubt about it.
“I worry Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante could leave. I don’t see a problem with Jamie Vardy, as I don’t think anyone will pay a lot of money for him at 29, but the other two stars are a worry.
“Kante will be at the Euros and his France team-mates will be going: ‘Oh, my manager wants you’. That’s how it works and he’s going to have his head twisted, I’d be shocked if those two were there next season.”