Leicester’s bargain-buys and cast-offs
LEICESTER, England (AP):
They are the bargain-buys and cast-offs from bigger clubs now on the verge of becoming Premier League champions.
Leicester play Manchester United on Sunday, one victory away from the title after being one of the favourites to be relegated at the start of the season.
Here is a guide to some of the key players in a team seven points clear at the top of the Premier League with three games remaining:
Kasper Schmeichel: The son of title-winning Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, Kasper is a Denmark international who has played for Leicester since 2011, when the club was in England's second division. He has 15 shutouts this season in the league.
Wes Morgan: The Leicester captain did not play in the Premier League until two years ago, at the age of 30. He has a powerful and combative style of defending and alongside Schmeichel has formed the core of a stubborn defence by playing every league match for Leicester so far.
Robert Huth: One of the more recognisable names in the Leicester ranks, Huth has experience of winning the Premier League with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006, as well as 19 appearances for Germany. He partners Morgan in the centre of Leicester's defence and is dominant aerially.
Danny Drinkwater: Incisive passing and tough tackling led to Drinkwater making his England debut last month. A former Manchester United trainee who could not break through at Old Trafford, he has flourished in central midfield at Leicester.
N'Golo Kante: The club's first signing last year from French team Caen when Claudio Ranieri was appointed manager, Kante has been one of the best midfielders in the league. Like Drinkwater, he made his international debut in March for France and scored.
Riyad Mahrez: Mahrez was an unknown when he joined from French club Le Havre in January 2014. The Algeria winger is now officially England's top player after being voted player of the year by his fellow professionals this month. While adding inventiveness and flair to Leicester's attacking play, Mahrez has contributed 17 goals and 11 assists in the league campaign.
Jamie Vardy: Four years ago, Vardy was playing for Fleetwood Town, a team outside the four professional leagues in England. Now he is a Premier League record breaker after scoring in 11 consecutive matches this season. He has spearheaded Leicester's title charge with 22 goals and is now set to go to the European Championship with England.
Shinji Okazaki: Japan's third highest scorer with 48 goals in 100 appearances, Okazaki signed for Leicester in 2015 from German club Mainz. He has weighed in with some important goals, including an acrobatic strike as Leicester edged Newcastle 1-0 in March.
Leonardo Ulloa: Bought from second-division team Brighton in 2014, his goal tally of 13 helped Leicester retain its Premier League status last season. His role has been reduced with the arrival of Okazaki this time around, but his decisive strike in the 1-0 win against Norwich in February could prove crucial to securing the title.