Vardy set to focus fully on England

Jamie Vardy training at England's Euro headquarters in Chantilly's Bourgognes Stadium. Arsenal triggered the release clause in his contract and want to take the striker, who scored 24 league goals last season, to the Emirates Stadium.
Jamie Vardy training at England's Euro headquarters in Chantilly's Bourgognes Stadium. Arsenal triggered the release clause in his contract and want to take the striker, who scored 24 league goals last season, to the Emirates Stadium.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

Leicester striker to hold off decision on move to Arsenal till after team return from France

CHANTILLY (France) • Jamie Vardy is expected to postpone any decision over whether his future lies at Leicester City or Arsenal until after the European Championship, effectively complying with Roy Hodgson's desire for club issues not to distract his players.

The England manager has been assured by the striker that his focus is fully on the national team, who start their campaign against Russia in Marseille on Saturday, as Arsenal wait to discover if he will move to the Emirates Stadium.

The London football club triggered the £20 million (S$39.4 million) release clause in his contract on Friday in the hope they could complete his transfer over the weekend, only for Vardy to ask for more time before deciding.

The England squad duly travelled to Chantilly on Monday with no decision as yet set in stone and, although Hodgson never made any specific personal demands on the 29-year-old to reach a resolution, the boss has made clear to all in the squad that the focus should be on England for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind, it is understood that Vardy - who had already been granted time off for his wedding, missing the friendly against Australia in the process - has accepted it would be appropriate for him to postpone any formal announcement on his future until after England's participation at the Finals is complete.

Arsenal have been made aware of the situation.

The apparent state of limbo poses a dilemma for the London club, who must choose whether to wait for an answer from their principal target potentially for another month or to pursue other options in the market.

Manager Arsene Wenger is acutely aware that the player could choose to remain with the Premier League champions, or that bids from rival clubs might be encouraged should he perform well in France.

However, the Frenchman believes Vardy will not be a starter for England at Euro 2016 as he is yet to gain the necessary experience at international level to do so.

"I don't think that Vardy will be a starter," Wenger said in an interview with beIN Sports. "He has earned his place in the squad.

"I don't say this because he does not have the quality, but because he doesn't have enough experience at that level to say the whole tournament will depend on Vardy. Will he be there? Certainly."

Arsenal's alternative target, the Spain forward Alvaro Morata, is expected to move to Chelsea in a deal that could be worth up to £40 million.

Even in the wake of Arsenal's offer, Leicester have not given up hope of holding on to Vardy.

He signed an improved 31/2-year contract in February - albeit with that release clause written into the deal - and is seen as a key part of their plans.

Vardy has a close relationship with Leicester's Thai owners as well as Claudio Ranieri, the Italian manager, and there is a collective desire on their part to keep the title-winning team together for one more season at least.

Both Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante are expected to attract interest from elsewhere this summer.

To that end, the club could yet offer the forward a fresh contract to remain at the King Power stadium, with new terms aimed at deflecting Arsenal's interest.

Vardy could, however, also be forgiven for thinking last season was as good as it will ever get at Leicester, even if there is the promise of Champions League football to come when the new campaign gets under way in August.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2016, with the headline 'Vardy set to focus fully on England'. Print Edition | Subscribe