Leicester City have had a measured summer, adding depth to their squad, but they haven’t changed their transfer strategy since winning the league. They could have been tempted to chase big names and proven Champions League players. Instead they have continued to target players that fit into the ethos that lead them to league success, looking to the long term. The latest player that looks to be coming in is Bartosz Kapustka, the 19 year old Polish midfielder, who made an impression at Euro 2016 this summer. Claudio Ranieri is believed to be closing in on a £7.4m move for the teenager and a deal could be announced in the coming days.
The midfielder made headlines during the summer and alerted many to his talent, which was already well known in Poland. He starred for Cracovia over the last two seasons and helped the club qualify for the Europa League qualifying stages during the 2015/16 campaign. Kapustka has been very good in the Polish league and was taken to Euro 2016 as a result, despite being the youngest player in the squad. This shows how highly rated the midfielder is in the Poland setup and many believe he is going to be the country’s next big star.
It wasn’t known how much of a role he was going to play at the championships given his age and lack of experience against quality opposition, but he featured in four matches. In the opening game against Northern Ireland, Kapustka played extremely well, impressing Gary Lineker, who called the midfielder ‘deliciously talented’. It was impressive as Northern Ireland played deep and looked to frustrate Poland, giving Kapustka little space to operate. The midfielder responded with some great play in tight spaces and he used his skill to create room for himself. He nearly scored a great goal from range and gave the world a taste of his talent. Although he didn’t do much during the rest of the tournament, he gained experience of the top level and will be eager to develop quickly at Leicester.
Kapustka can play on the left or in central areas. He likes to be given freedom to float across the space behind the striker, which will he be allowed at Leicester as they have Christian Fuchs bombing on from full-back. He is a forward-thinking player and looks to play through balls when the opportunity is presented. The teenager has the ability to go on the outside and whip dangerous crosses into the area, or move inside and threaten from distance. He possesses a clean strike and occasionally bursts into the area late from midfield to try and score. His intelligence in the final third shows maturity beyond his years. Kapustka isn’t the quickest player, but with his skill and his turn of acceleration, he can beat players at will. He will provide excitement to the Leicester attack.
Although he is a great prospect, he will need time to adjust to Premier League. It is a huge step up from the Polish top flight and he showed signs of his rawness at the Euros. He will need to bulk up in the gym to deal with the increased physicality and spend some time being used in a lesser role as he adjusts to the Leicester system. He is far from ready to make that left wing spot his own and is one for the future, rather than one who can play a major role from day one. During the Euros, he got frustrated at times and that led to some poor discipline, with the midfielder receiving three yellow cards. That is an area of his game that he must improve under Claudio Ranieri.
He gave an interview on Telewizja Polska and said:
“I’m not going there just for fun. It is for the name of the club who last season won the championship of England. Of all the offers tabled, Leicester wanted me the most. [Claudio] Ranieri’s interest was a big factor for me.”
This is promising for Leicester fans, as they can see how their club’s reputation is growing around the world. It also shows how the club and Ranieri can attract some of best young players to the KP Stadium. Kapustka was being chased by several clubs including Ajax, Everton and Southampton, but he decided Leicester was the best place to continue to development. This could be the beginning of Leicester establishing themselves as a regular top eight side in the Premier League, which would be a great achievement for them as a club.