Jamie Vardy is “something exceptional” who can play at any level and Leicester City have yet to see the best of the prolific striker who will have an “amazing career”, according to former Foxes captain Matt Elliott.
Vardy, playing minor league football three years ago, has taken the Premier League by storm with his goals turning Leicester, in their second season back in the top-flight after a 10-year absence, into unlikely title contenders.
Thai-owned Leicester have been the surprise of the season, carrying on the momentum from last year when they pulled away from relegation danger by winning seven of their final nine games.
They surprisingly axed manager Nigel Pearson, replacing him with Claudio Ranieri, and England international Vardy has flourished under the Italian who has deployed the 28-year-old in a more central role with a license to roam.
“He’s got the quality to pretty much play at any level with the ability he’s got,” Elliott told Reuters.
“We’re yet to see the best of him and I don’t think even Leicester city utilise him enough. I don’t think he gets enough of the ball,” he added.
“He’s something exceptional with the natural footballing ability he’s got. Intelligence in a football sense… he’s just got god given talent that not many possess. He’ll go on and have an amazing career.”
Last month Vardy became the first player to score in 11 successive Premier League matches and despite a three-game goal drought in which Leicester have failed to win,
The speedy forward may have to undergo minor surgery, British media reported, but he is certain to be a target in the January transfer window having been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City.
Elliott, who played nearly 300 games for Leicester between 1997 and 2005 and was part of the club’s golden era under now Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, does not believe they need to sell their top striker.
“I don’t think Leicester need to sell, in terms of financial value, because what’s it going to cost to replace Jamie Vardy?,” he said.
“It’s a pointless exercise for me. If their hand gets forced and he puts the squeeze on and he goes then ok. They need to have some reinforcements lined up.”
Leicester sit second after 20 games, two points behind Arsenal, but Elliott, an uncompromising centre back who lifted the League Cup in 2000 after scoring twice in the final in a 2-1 win over Tranmere Rovers, said Ranieri needed to bolster his squad to stay in the mix for a top-four finish.
“In my mind there are one or two areas to strengthen and if they did that it would really show their intent,” he said.
“Jamie Vardy needs support around the attacking areas, a little bit of extra quality there, and perhaps in the central defensive area as well… just back up.”
Should they make one or two additions Elliott, who won 18 international caps for Scotland, is confident Leicester can push on, although landing their first ever English top-flight league title will be hard.
“They can achieve what many people consider to be nigh on the impossible,” he said.
“I think they can stay in the top region. Winning it is a long shot. Champions League is a possibility.”