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Leicester City and OH Leuven: the start of a useful friendship?

Everyone needs little a-loan time

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Chelsea v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Leicester City are set to take on Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup (that’s the league cup, and no, I hadn’t heard of it either) and, as in previous years, we’re expecting the majority of starters to be rested.

With Robert Huth and Wes Morgan both out injured, a fully changed lineup would really test our depth at the back, and Shakespeare has stated today that they’ve called Josh Knight up from the development squad.

The 19 year old CB/RB has apparently impressed the manager, but would surely not have been the first option had Elliott Moore been available. The development squad captain already filled in with the first team during the preseason, but is unavailable after heading out on loan last week.

Moore has joined Belgian side OH Leuven until January. If you recognise that name, it’s probably because in May it was announced that the club was being taken over by King Power International Group. King Power’s founder and chairman, Vichai Srivadhanaprabha also owns little known English side Leicester City.

OHL currently play in the second tier of Belgian football, but were in the top league, the Belgian Pro league, as recently as the ‘15/16 season. With Moore in the defence, they started their season off with a 7-1 win at the weekend, so could be back soon.

The loan of one of the Foxes’ higher rated youngsters in the first season of our sort of shared ownership raises the possibility that there might be more in the future. Especially if OHL are capable of a return to the top flight and can build on their position in Belgium and their training facilities (not a dig, but Leicester’s are seriously top notch, so I imagine that’s part of the plan there).

These sorts of arrangements are very much in fashion these days, led by the interesting relationship between Chelsea and Vitesse Arnhem, and you can see why it would appeal to the team to have some control over their players.

For example, Bartosz Kapustka, our highest profile loanee, who left the club due to a lack of playing time, was left of the Freiburg squad for their opening game. Hardly ideal and much less likely if the two clubs had an agreement of some kind.

Coventry City v Oxford United - EFL Checkatrade Trophy Final
Wales international George Thomas cost £450,000 to join the youth team
Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Nothing may come of this, and it could be a one time only deal, but it’s interesting to see it happening. The club have been pretty active in bringing in exciting young players to join the development squad over the past few windows, signing highly rated talents such as George Thomas, Sam Hughes, Josh Gordon and Raul Uche.

Despite these investments, the path through to the first team squad is not currently very clear. Another opportunity for these players to gain first team experience, while staying closer to the safe confines of their parent club, might be perfect.

At worst, you can at least buy an OH Leuven jersey and beat every single football hipster you’ll ever meet.