Leicester City are set to complete the loan signing of Chelsea midfielder Cesare Casadei.
The 20-year-old Italy under-21 international will join Enzo Maresca’s squad for the season as Leicester continue their squad rebuild in their bid to return to the Premier League.
Casadei, who joined Chelsea from Inter Milan in 2022, will provide more attacking midfield options as Maresca continues his reinvention of Leicester by utilising the loan market.
Leicester have always found the outgoing loan market useful in the development of their young talent.
With previous loan managers Dean Hammond and Guy Branston at the helm, and now title-winner Robert Huth in the position, it was an important part of the development of players such as Harvey Barnes, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Daniel Iversen.
Due diligence was done on deciding which clubs were the right fit for each player, where they would be looked after, nurtured and if the destination club’s football suited Leicester’s style.
A strong chance of good pitch time was also important.
When they got it right, as they did with Dewsbury-Hall’s emergence at Blackpool and then Luton Town, Barnes at West Bromwich Albion and Iversen at Preston North End, the whole club benefited.
When it wasn’t right, such as Ben Nelson’s move to Rochdale last season, the move can be cut short and rethought.
As an established Premier League club, Leicester were at the top of the tree and there were no shortage of clubs looking to loan the talent from their category one academy on a temporary basis.
But the shoe is now on the other foot and it is Leicester now looking to bring in emerging talent on a temporary basis.
Crystal Palace winger Jesurun Rak-Sakyi is also high up on manager Enzo Maresca’s wish list and talks are advancing.
There are other interested parties, but Leicester are an attractive proposition because they meet all the criteria.
First, both Casadei and Rak-Sakyi are likely to play. There are no guarantees, of course — that will come down to their form — but the fact that Maresca has picked them out individually, particularly Casadei, suggests they will feature prominently in his plans for this season.
Leicester have been assessing all their winger options and there are a few, but Rak-Sakyi fits his remit of a winger who can provide width, can beat a defender (he had the most progressive dribbles on loan at Charlton Athletic last season) and can score goals. He scored 15 and provided eight assists last season in League One. He is clearly ready to step up in standard.
Likewise Casadei, who had a brief stint on loan in the Championship with Reading last season. A new challenge will be the priority in their development.
There are other reasons why Leicester will be seen as an attractive location now they are no longer a direct rival in the Premier League.
The training facilities at Seagrave will certainly be the best in the Championship, better than most in the Premier League in fact, and the players will be well looked after.
They will train every day with players with Premier League experience. They will be able to learn from internationals like Harry Winks and Jamie Vardy and rising talent like Dewsbury-Hall.
They will play under a highly regarded, technical coach in Maresca, fresh from his experience with Pep Guardiola and treble-winning Manchester City, and they will be playing in a side that plays progressive, possession-based football in a modern system. Leicester will be expected to enjoy the majority of possession in most of their games, ensuring they will get plenty of touches to develop their own individual game.
In short, it will be good preparation for the Premier League when they return to their parent clubs.
Those factors were certainly key to Callum Doyle’s arrival from Manchester City, where he had worked under Maresca before and where the style of play is similar.
From a business perspective too, Leicester will be able to afford decent loan fees, despite their efforts to conform with profit and sustainability rules. The sales of James Maddison and Barnes for a combined £80million has already helped in that regard. They should also be able to pay a good proportion of players’ wages.
If Leicester get both deals over the line in the coming days it will take Maresca’s recruitment to seven but, despite the fact that 10 players have left since the end of last season, inevitably others will be heading for the exit door themselves.
Certainly Leicester don’t need five goalkeepers, even with an injury concern to No 1 Mads Hermansen. Maresca confirmed after the 2-0 Carabao Cup victory over Burton Albion on Wednesday evening that the Dane had picked up an injury in training and will be assessed.
Danny Ward seems certain to leave having not featured at all in pre-season, while Daniel Iversen was seen as a bankable asset that could be cashed in but another injury to Alex Smithies may affect that decision.
Meanwhile there are question marks over two of January’s recruits, Harry Souttar and Victor Kristiansen. Souttar didn’t make the bench at Burton, with academy defender Ben Nelson preferred ahead of him and, while Kristiansen is currently injured, where he or any of the more conventional full-backs fit into Maresca’ system — which utilises an inverted full-back and a third central defender as the other member of the back four — remains a doubt.
Luke Thomas is in a similar predicament, and is yet to see any action after his late return from his efforts at a triumphant Euros with England under-21s.
Boubakary Soumare has been nowhere to be seen in recent weeks and also seems surplus to requirements, while the expectation remains that Jannik Vestergaard and Timothy Castagne will move on. Torino’s interest in Dennis Praet is well documented as well.
It won’t be until the transfer window closes that the make-up of Maresca’s final squad will be settled, and there seems to be plenty of scope for more ins and outs in the next three weeks.
(Top photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)