Leicester City have signed 29-year-old Spanish midfielder Vicente Iborra from Sevilla for a reported fee of £10.5 million.
Iborra joined Sevilla from Levante in August 2013 and won three UEFA Europa Leagues during his four-year spell. He’s traditionally a defensive midfielder but was regularly deployed as an attacking midfielder during Unai Emery’s reign at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
The Spaniard graduated from Levante’s youth academy and signed his first professional contract at the beginning of the 2007/08 season. After impressing in the reserves, he went onto make 188 appearances and scored 12 goals in all competitions during six seasons.
Sunderland had a £7 million bid accepted by Sevilla during last summer’s transfer window but the Spanish outfit called the deal off. He found himself out of favour last season under new manager Jorge Sampaoli and made 19 appearances from the substitutes bench in the Spanish La Liga.
Jorge Sampaoli has joined his native Argentina and was succeeded by former Celta Vigo manager Eduardo Berizzo. The 47-year-old has a likening for defensive midfielders who are comfortable in possession but he only completed an average of 82.1% of his 30.8 passes per game in the Spanish La Liga last term.
Therefore, it was always going to be unlikely for Iborra to fit into the philosophy and future plans of Sevilla’s young and promising manager. Ever Banega has returned to the club after a one year absence with Italian giants Inter Milan to seemingly replace Vicente Iborra.
The Argentine international completed an average of 85.4% of his 41.2 passes per game in the Italian Serie A last term. He also made six assists, which is three times more than Iborra accumulated during the 2016/17 campaign.
Vicente Iborra featured in both ties against Leicester City in the Round of 16 stage in the UEFA Champions League. The foxes went onto progress to the quarter-finals of the competition but were knocked out by Atletico Madrid.
What to expect from vicente iborra?
The 29-year-old midfielder seems perfectly designed for the Premier League. He’s physically empowering and is incredibly superior in aerial duals due to his towering height of 6 ft 3”. Iborra was used sparingly by Sampaoli last season and made 19 of his 31 La Liga appearances from the substitute’s bench.
However, he still averaged 1.1 interceptions and 1.5 clearances per game during the 2016/17 season. Leicester City have been searching for a replacement for N’Golo Kante, who left the King Power Stadium last summer.
Although Kante and Iborra are extremely different players, a strong defensive midfielder is what the foxes are currently craving. He’s traditionally a defensive midfielder but is a confident finisher due to his history of playing as an attacking midfielder under Sampaoli.
Iborra is perfectly designed to play in a counter-attacking team, which is exactly the style of Leicester City. He makes key interceptions and blocks and immediately looks to launch counter-attacking moves by playing through balls to the attacking players.
Jamie Vardy will feed from Iborra’s creativity and hunger to launch quick and dangerous counter-attacking moves. Whether he’ll regularly start for Leicester City is yet to be seen but due to the price paid for him, I can’t see him rotting away on the bench.
3 Things to Know About Vicente Iborra
• Iborra won the UEFA Europa League three times and finished runners-up in the UEFA Super Cup on three occasions.
• He became only the third player in La Liga history to score a hat-trick after coming off the bench last season against Celta Vigo.
• The Spaniard was on the verge of joining Sunderland last summer but Sevilla subsequently called off the deal.