Ahead of this weekend’s clash with Manchester City, Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri, has compared striker Jamie Vardy to Marco van Basten after watching him volley Liverpool into midweek oblivion.
The great Dutch striker entered lore with a vicious, dipping strike from an acute angle in the final of the 1988 European Championships. Vardy’s approximation on Tuesday set Leicester on their way to another three points to maintain their unlikely hegemony in the Premier League.
For those with a fondness for Serie A there was a Francesco Totti special, a left-footed volley against Sampdoria, that also drew a comparison from Ranieri.
“I can put him with Van Basten who make a fantastic goal. And I don’t know if you watched Totti when he scored against Sampdoria. Amazing goals. I don’t know if it’s a new talent this season. Jamie, what he is doing is fantastic. Good for him, good for us. Good for our fans. You can only clap. What else can you do?”
Vardy’s 18 goals have underpinned Leicester’s extraordinary rise, galvanising not only the city but the nation as they take on the heavyweights for the Premier League title.
Tomorrow’s engagement at Manchester City pitches Vardy against one of the great goal scorers of the modern age, Sergio Aguero.
While Ranieri is happy to link his star man to football’s hall of famers in terms of a one-off wonder strike, he argues it is too early to associate him with the likes of Aguero after one season no matter how outrageous his contribution.
“Sergio Aguero is a guarantee. Every season. Boom,” Ranieri said. “For Jamie, this is a first time. I hope he can continue next season, then the next season, then the next season.”
Ranieri tapped into the atmosphere being generated by his team during an impromptu visit to Leicester’s celebrated open market, where he moved happily among the shoppers signing autographs and posing for pictures. “I’m relaxed because we are doing very good season. The market is good, everybody wants to buy something, we are happy.”
Ultimately the question everybody is asking is can Leicester beat the thoroughbreds ranged against them to claim the title? Experience has taught Ranieri not to get caught on that hook. “We will try to do our best,” he said.
“Saturday will be a fantastic match. We will try to enjoy it, and try to win. We believe we are working well. From now until the end there are only tough matches.”
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