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Pogba, Man United silence the noise vs. Leicester

Manchester United

Leicester have Maguire model away kit

The Toe Poke

Huth, Kante, Mahrez, Vardy and Leicester's unlikely title fighters

Leicester's remarkable title charge continues and they're doing it with a collection of unlikely players cobbled together from here and there. So what were these players doing before joining the Foxes?

NOTE: Players who have made over 10 league starts qualify. Previous career highlight is before joining the Leicester first-team.

Kasper Schmeichel -- signed from Leeds United for £1 million in 2011

Kasper Schmeichel, son of Manchester United legend Peter, has kept eight clean sheets in the league this season.

Schmeichel and Joe Hart came through at around the same time at Manchester City and the Dane was in the first team ahead of the Englishman when Sven Goran Eriksson was City boss in 2007. He performed well for a 20-year-old, saving a penalty from Robin van Persie among other things, but after slipping down the pecking order, he was bought by Notts County in that curious period when Eriksson was director of football. Eriksson, clearly a big fan, brought Schmeichel to Leicester from Leeds in 2011.
Previous career highlight: Named Danish under-21 talent of the year in 2007.

Danny Simpson -- signed from QPR for £2m in 2014

Danny Simpson has made 20 appearances for Leicester in all competitions this term.

A right-back who came through at Manchester United, Simpson only ever made three league appearances for them and had string of loan spells, taking in time at Royal Antwerp, Sunderland, Ipswich, Blackburn and Newcastle, for whom he eventually signed permanently in January 2010. He left St James' Park in 2013, joining QPR on a free transfer. He won promotion via the playoffs, but was rather curiously sold -- he was their only right-back at the time -- at the start of the following season to Leicester, having only made one appearance for them in the top flight.
Previous career highlight: Three promotions -- with Sunderland, Newcastle and QPR.

Christian Fuchs -- signed on a free transfer after leaving Schalke in 2015

Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs, Wes Morgan
Christian Fuchs (centre) has been a relevation at Leicester following his free transfer move.

A relatively unspectacular and low-key performer at club level, Fuchs started his career in his native Austria, playing five seasons for SV Mattersburg before joining VfL Bochum in Germany in 2008. A year on loan at Mainz ended with them buying him but then selling him to Schalke the next day, where he was a regular for a couple of years. He appeared in the Champions League before a knee injury meant he spent a chunk of the 2013-14 season on the sidelines. Captain of Austria and has 72 caps.
Previous career highlight: Setting up a football academy in America.

Robert Huth -- signed from Stoke for £3m in 2015

Robert Huth
Robert Huth's two goals at Manchester City helped Leicester on their way to a fine 3-1 win.

Huth was recruited from the youth team of Union Berlin at age 16, but with John Terry, William Gallas and Ricardo Carvalho ahead of him, would only make 62 appearances for Chelsea over five seasons. A move to Middlesbrough followed but he was relegated with them in 2009, joining Tony Pulis' merry band of centre-backs at Stoke that year, where he spent four seasons as a regular before assorted knee injuries saw him fall out of contention. He joined Leicester on a permanent deal in the summer after a loan spell last season. Previous career highlight: Scraping enough appearances (10 and 13) to win two Premier League medals with Chelsea in 2005 and 2006.

Wes Morgan -- signed from Nottingham Forest for £1m in 2012

Wes Morgan (centre) has been one of the mainstays in Leicester's defence so far.

A product of the occasionally fruitful Nottingham Forest youth system, Morgan made over 400 appearances for his hometown club, becoming a regular almost straight away after being thrown into their first team at 19. Morgan grew to become one of the best centre-backs outside of the Premier League while at Forest and when it became clear their season was going nowhere in 2012, he moved across the East Midlands to Leicester in the January transfer window.
Previous career highlight: Winning promotion with Forest by finishing second in League One in 2008.

Jeffrey Schlupp -- came through the youth ranks

Jeffrey Schlupp once had trials with Manchester United.

Born in Hamburg to Ghanaian parents, Schlupp and his family moved to England when he was a boy and joined the Leicester youth ranks, initially as a striker. He attracted the attention of Manchester United and was given a trial at Old Trafford, even after becoming a semi-regular in the Leicester first-team, in 2013. He was eventually converted to a winger and then primarily a left-back, displacing Paul Konchesky during Leicester's promotion season in 2013-14. Won the players' player of the year award in their first campaign back in the top flight last season.
Previous career highlight: Runner-up in the Football League Trophy while on loan at Brentford.

Danny Drinkwater -- signed from Manchester United for £675,000 in 2012

Danny Drinkwater is yet another former Manchester United starlet to end up at Leicester.

Another United graduate, Drinkwater looked for years like a talented player who would never quite find a regular place to settle. The midfielder never made a senior appearance for United and spent loan spells at Huddersfield, Cardiff, Watford and Barnsley before Leicester swooped in January 2012. "They've nicked a player we've been developing," said Barnsley boss Keith Hill, irked that the Foxes had nipped in to buy Drinkwater, who was on loan at Oakwell at the time.
Previous career highlight: Scoring the winner in the Lancashire Senior Cup for United against Liverpool in 2008.

N'Golo Kante -- signed from Caen for £5.6m in 2015

N'Golo Kante
N'Golo Kante was outstanding at Manchester City, shackling Kolo Toure in their midfield battle.

Five years ago, Yaya Toure was settling in at Manchester City having won the Champions League and two La Liga titles with Barcelona. At the same time, the man who outplayed him at the weekend, N'Golo Kante, was turning out for JS Suresnes in the French eighth tier. He gradually inched his way up the rungs of French football, playing for Boulogne's reserves in the fifth tier, then their first team in Ligue 2, before moving to Caen in the same division.
Previous career highlight: Winning promotion to Ligue 1 with Caen in 2014.

Marc Albrighton -- signed on a free after being released by Aston Villa in 2014

Marc Albrighton is enjoying an upturn in fortunes having been released by struggling Aston Villa.

A rapid and skillful winger, Albrighton initially impressed at Aston Villa but couldn't hold down a regular place in their first team, and a loan spell at Wigan in 2013 didn't produce a great deal of evidence that he could become a Premier League player either. He was released by Villa when his contract expired in 2014, having been with the club since he was eight.
Previous career highlight: Scoring 15 minutes into his debut for England under-21s in 2010.

Riyad Mahrez -- signed from Le Havre for £400,000 in 2014

Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez has been one of the players of the season, racking up double figures in both goals and assists.

Mahrez started out at Sarcelles, then moved to Quimper in the fourth division in France and then Le Havre, initially for their reserve side but he eventually made their first team, at the time in Ligue 2. A Leicester scout spotted the Algerian and also recommended Kante, as the two players faced each other in 2013, and a few months later the Foxes paid the relative pittance of £400,000 for Mahrez, who was followed 18 months later by the central midfielder.
Previous career highlight: Appearing for Algeria at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Jamie Vardy -- signed from Fleetwood Town, for £1m in 2012

Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy created history this season by scoring in 11 successive Premier League matches.

Released by Sheffield Wednesday at 15, Vardy learned his trade playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels in non-league before moving to Halifax Town. Goals there saw a move to Fleetwood Town, and his impressive record -- he scored 34 times in 42 games -- convinced Leicester to pay £1m for him in 2012. While that sum is clearly the biggest of bargains for the man who is currently top scorer in the Premier League, it's worth remembering that at the time it was viewed as a gamble by Leicester. Nobody had ever paid that much money for a player who'd never played league football.
Previous career highlight: Setting the non-league transfer record when he moved to Leicester from Fleetwood.

Shinji Okazaki -- signed from FC Mainz for £7m in 2015

Shinji Okazaki has partnered well with Vardy up front and has contributed a modest five goals.

Started life with Shimizi S-Pulse in the J-League, where he played for five years before moving to Europe in 2011. He signed for VfB Stuttgart but was sold to Mainz after scoring just one league goal in his final season at Stuttgart. He is Japan's third all-time leading goalscorer, finding the net for his country at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
Previous career highlight: Those World Cup goals are probably up there, but this bicycle kick for Stuttgart isn't bad either.

The supporting cast:

Gokhan Inler -- signed from Napoli for £3m in 2015

Signed for Leicester last summer after making over 250 appearances in Italy over eight years with Napoli and Udinese.
Previous career highlight: Winning the Coppa Italia twice with Napoli in 2012 and 2014.

Andy King -- came through the youth ranks

Released from the Chelsea youth academy aged 15, Welsh international King subsequently joined Leicester and made his senior debut aged 18. He's made over 300 appearances for the club from League One to the Premier League.
Previous career highlight: Winning the FA Premier League Group B with the Leicester youth team.

Leonardo Ulloa -- signed from Brighton for £8m in 2014

Brighton brought Ulloa to England in 2013, Leicester spending a club record fee on him 18 months later.
Previous career highlight: Winning the Copa Sudamericana with Arsenal Sarandi in 2007, although his role was peripheral.

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.


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