Leicester City braced for frenetic run up to deadline as Maresca’s squad takes shape

Timothy Castagne’s move to Fulham will be the first salvo in what could be a frenetic, action-packed end to the transfer window for Leicester City.

The Belgium international has moved to Craven Cottage in a deal that could eventually be worth £15million ($19.1m), with appearance and performance related add-ons written into the agreement. He will not be the only player heading out the door in the final week of the window.

Manager Enzo Maresca will spend most of the week trimming the fat from his squad after the arrival of winger Yunus Akgun from Galatasaray took his summer acquisitions to seven — and the Turkey international may not be the final new face to arrive before deadline day, either.

Leicester are trying to finalise a deal for Sporting winger Abdul Fatawa Issahaku while Manchester City’s promising young defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis is also wanted by Maresca as he targets the profile of player required to carry out his plan for Leicester’s promotion assault.

Harwood-Bellis lifts the trophy after England win the European Under-21s Championships in July (Photo: Sam Barnes – Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images)

Additions will be dependent on outgoings, though.

Striker Patson Daka, who has not featured this season, seems certain to be heading out with plenty of interest in the Zambia international, including from the Premier League. Daka will have options.

Boubakary Soumare should also be departing with Sevilla strongly linked to the former Ligue 1 title winner. The Spanish club would prefer a loan deal with an option with Leicester insisting on a permanent move, though their stance may soften closer to deadline if they still need to shift high-earning players deemed surplus to requirements.

The fact they have five goalkeepers also needs to be addressed with Danny Ward and Daniel Iversen the most likely to be moved on, although the reality Alex Smithies is sidelined through injury may mean Leicester keep one of the pair to ensure they retain three senior keepers.

Left-back Luke Thomas is wanted by Leeds United on loan, while Victor Kristiansen is expected to finalise a move to Italian club Bologna. Kristiansen was in Italy yesterday to undergo his medical.

Both players have found themselves out of the frame as Maresca, by his own admission, does not play with conventional full-backs in his system.

Kristiansen’s has been a short stay at Leicester having only joined the club eight months ago. The same applies to Harry Souttar, who is wanted on loan by Rangers — another deal that could go through closer to the deadline.

Then there are the players that are of interest to other clubs, but Leicester may prefer to retain. Striker Kelechi Iheanacho has become the first choice No 9 in Maresca’s system with his natural tendency to drop deep to link up play, allowing runners to burst beyond him from midfield, suits Maresca’s philosophy. Several Premier League clubs, including Crystal Palace, have expressed an interest in the Nigerian, who is in the last year of his contract.

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Iheanacho, Maresca’s first-choice No 9, is a wanted man (Photo: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

However, if Leicester did a deal for the Nigeria international then they would have to bring in a replacement quickly, particularly with Daka likely to leave. Their departures would leave Jamie Vardy as the remaining striker unless another forward was secured.

Iheanacho’s compatriot Wilfred Ndidi, who scored and provided an assist in Tuesday’s 2-0 EFL Cup win at Tranmere, has been linked with Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Nottingham Forest, and Maresca was not ruling anything out for any of his players.

“He is an important player but the window is open and anything can happen for Wilfred or any of them in the squad,” said the manager.

There is a lot of work to be done before Friday’s deadline and director of football Jon Rudkin, who was at Prenton Park to witness Leicester making it six consecutive victories to start the season and the Maresca era, faces a busy few days.

“Yes (it could be busy),” admitted Maresca. “In any moment, something can happen.”

Whether Rudkin can get all those deals done in time remains to be seen. Odds are some players will be left behind when the window closes, and it seems likely that, once the deadline has passed, Maresca will have to reintegrate one or two players who had expected to move on.

The Italian has demonstrated he is not adverse to granting a fresh start to players whose time at the club had appeared up. Jannik Vestergaard’s presence in his starting line-ups this season has demonstrated as much.

Regardless of what happens, it has been a positive window for Leicester so far.

They knew they had to move on James Maddison, and Harvey Barnes’ departure was inevitable following relegation. Castagne was a bankable asset who did not really fit into Maresca’s style of play and was used as a right winger in pre-season. With the other eight departures, Leicester were largely powerless as the players concerned were all out of contract.

So far, the business to replace them has been encouraging.

At Prenton Park Leicester fans had a glimpse of Akgun, the latest new face to join, while Cesare Casadei made his first start since joining on loan from Chelsea.

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Akgun has joined from Galatasaray (Photo: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

Callum Doyle has settled well, while Mads Hermansen, who was rested, has also made an encouraging start. Conor Coady’s Leicester career may have been frustrated to date by a foot injury, but the England centre-half was walking without a protective boot after the win at Rotherham last Saturday.

This has been a window of huge transition at Leicester, making their 100 percent start even more impressive considering the personnel changes, new coaching staff and shift in the playing philosophy.

It will only be after the window closes, and things settle down, that Maresca’s new look Leicester can truly be assessed. But their start has been more than encouraging.

(Top photo: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images) 

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