Leicester City have added to their ranks further this summer, following the signing of Sevilla captain Vicente Iborra.
In Spanish, Vicente means ‘victory’ or ‘to conquer’. Looking at the player’s career so far, perhaps there is more to this move than meets the eye. Having led Los Rojiblancos to three successive Europa League titles between 2013 and 2016 the Foxes could well have pulled off quite the coup for a fee reported to be in the region of £11million.
Upon signing, he told Sevilla’s club website:
“I’m starting to hit a certain age, trains pass and it was the moment to take it.
“Destiny is fickle, but it’s a project [Leicester] that I find very attractive.”
— Leicester City (@LCFC) July 6, 2017
Essentially a defensive-midfielder, under Unai Emery he was deployed further up the field during the 2014/15 season and returned nine goals, contributing to a career haul of 43 in all competitions.
Having grown up and learned his trade in La Liga, first with Levante, the 29-year-old has all of the qualities you would expect from a Spanish midfielder. Technically very good and tactically astute he will bring a maturity and footballing intelligence to Leicester in the centre of the park, perhaps not seen by Foxes fans since the days of Neil Lennon.
In what appears as though it could be a summer of transition at the East Midlands outfit, with Riyad Mahrez keen to move on, Iborra could be an important piece in the jigsaw that boss Craig Shakespeare is trying to put together.
Leicester tried and failed to replace N’Golo Kante last summer (Nampalys Mendy just couldn’t do the same job), though Iborra isn’t too dissimilar from their former player, certainly in terms of work rate and tenacity.
It is a trait that is rare in La Liga, though these characteristics were certainly a factor which helped Sevilla to European glory for three consecutive seasons.
Most of Iborra’s playing time for the Andalucian side was spent operating as one of two deep-lying midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 system and it will be interesting whether his presence in the Leicester squad dictates a change in system from the 4-4-1-1 that they won the Premier League with.
Danny Drinkwater, who seemed to struggle at times last season, without the presence of Kante, could well experience a reprieve and afforded more time on the ball again next term, assuming he starts alongside Iborra.
Also a menace from set-pieces, he will cause opponents problems in their penalty areas with his physical and aerial presence, while he is also just as effective in his own 18-yard box defending corners and free-kicks.
He may not be Kante, though there is hope that Iborra can say “I came, I saw, I conquered” when his time in England is over.