The Football Association has been left unimpressed by the news Jamie Vardy has agreed a new four-year contract at Leicester City five days after the striker stated publicly his focus would remain solely on England during Euro 2016.
The Premier League champions announced on Thursday that Vardy, whose 24 goals were key to Claudio Ranieri’s side claiming the title last season, had opted to stay despite Arsenal having triggered the £22m release clause in his contract at the start of the month. The London club held discussions with Vardy before the national side’s departure for France but, in the period of silence which followed, Arsène Wenger had resigned himself to the forward being unlikely to join Arsenal.
England, who have barred agents from the team hotel here, had been well aware of the state of flux surrounding the 29-year-old’s future. But having granted Vardy leave to miss the friendly against Australia just before the tournament for his wedding, England had been assured by the player any decision over his future would be delayed until the side’s participation at the European Championship was completed.
Vardy stated as much as recently as last Saturday. “There is only one thing I want to do here and that is play football to the best of my ability,” he said. “If I let things start distracting me I’m not going to be able to do that, which will jeopardise the team as well. So everything has been completely blanked out except for England, England, England.”
There was therefore surprise within the England camp when Leicester City announced agreement had been reached in principle over an improved deal. Although his previous deal was signed only in February and runs to 2019, the new contract will see Vardy’s weekly wage rise from £70,000 to nearer £100,000. Arsenal had been prepared to pay closer to £125,000 a week.
“Leicester City have agreed with the representatives of Jamie Vardy to extend the England international’s contract with the Premier League champions for a further four years,” said the club in a statement posted on their website. “Both parties hope that this announcement will end recent speculation regarding Jamie’s future and confirm his long-term commitment to Leicester City Football Club.
“Jamie will continue to focus all of his efforts on trying to achieve success with the England team at the European Championships in France. There will be no further comment from either the club or the player on this matter until the conclusion of the tournament.”
Vardy started the goalless draw with Slovakia on Monday, which left England second in Group B but faces a fight to be included in the starting lineup for Monday’s last-16 fixture with Iceland, with Harry Kane expected to earn a recall.
Leicester will be delighted the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year – who scored his fourth goal for his country in England’s 2-1 victory over Wales – has agreed to stay and hope his decision to reject the opportunity to join Arsenal strengthens their chances of retaining two other leading players, N’Golo Kanté and Riyad Mahrez, before the club’s first foray into the Champions League next season.
Both players are on long-term deals but, with no shortage of suitors after last season’s success, have indicated they will make decisions on their future over the summer.
Vardy will sign his new deal once England return from the tournament. It appears he feels he has unfinished business at Leicester, the club he joined from Fleetwood Town for £1m four years ago, and perhaps harbours a sense of loyalty to his team-mates and Ranieri, the manager, who had been active in attempting to dissuade him from joining Arsenal.
Confirmation of the contract represents a blow to Wenger, whose interest has gone the same way as that in Luis Suárez three years ago, when the London club triggered a similar clause in the Uruguayan’s contract with Liverpool. They could switch their attentions back to Álvaro Morata, who had been under consideration, though Real Madrid are in talks with Chelsea over the striker’s future just days after he rejoined Real from Juventus.
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