We’re less than a week away from the start of the Premier League season, but Leicester City have finally announced Belgium international Timothy Castagne as their first signing of the summer.
The former Atalanta full back set the Foxes back around £21m and joins on a 5 year deal, but what can fans expect him to add to the side?
Attacking from wide
The 24 year old’s strengths are in getting forward from wide positions, which he had particular licence to do in the Italian side’s three at the back system.
He does have some defensive frailties, so there are question marks about how well he fits into a back four, but Rodgers and co. seem confident that he can do it.
Got to be pleased with this. Good age, decent fee, versatile and coming in from one of Europe's best attacking teams. Sorts out a sensible Chilwell replacement for less than half of his transfer fee. #lcfc https://t.co/ARx9pZ3nyk— Joe Brewin (@JoeBrewinFFT) September 1, 2020
The Foxes like to get their fullbacks forward, providing support, and often an overlap, for their wingers. Castagne certainly fits the bill there.
Whether it was for Atalanta or Belgium, he loves to get forward and involved in attacks. He’s not the threat to run with the ball that Chilwell is, but he gets into dangerous areas well, and his delivery is much more polished.
Depth and versatility
Everyone was expecting a left footed LB, and maybe that would have made more sense in an ideal world, but there’s still plenty to like about this signing, even if it’s not perfect.
The Belgian brings in a surprising amount of experience for his age, including international and Champions League football. Just like last summer’s signing James Justin, he can also play either side without a drop off.
The Foxes now go into the season with five fullbacks and, with Castagne and JJ covering both sides, plenty of depth in case on injury.
With Timothy, I know he will stand out at Leicester. He can become one of the best full-backs in the Premier League - Castagne’s former Youth team coach Dimitri de Conde
With both Ricardo and Fuchs out to start the season, the Belgian’s flexibility gives us important resilience for the first few weeks, in case one of the three fit fullbacks is unavailable.
I can’t say I love the signing, but I don’t hate it either. We’re a better squad than we were yesterday, for about the minimum fee you can expect to pay for a Premier League quality player in the current market.
Room for Luke Thomas
The Foxes have been linked with a number of Chiwell replacements this summer from expensive but established stars like Robin Gosens or Nicolas Tagliafico, to cheaper developmental options like Jamal Lewis or Antonee Robinson.
The one thing these out and out left backs had in common is that there’s no place for them and last year’s breakout star Luke Thomas in the same starting XI.
Leicester City Academy graduate Luke Thomas has signed a new long-term contract with the Football Club!— Leicester City (@LCFC) August 25, 2020
With just three first team games to his name, it’s clearly still very early to anoint the teenager as the left back of the future.
The coaches certainly seem to like to him though. If he is going to push on and make the breakthrough that Ben Chilwell did before him, he needs a path through to regular minutes.
If Gosens or Tagliafico were here, he could only do that out on loan. To me this is signing that says management are very confident in his ability to be the starting left back sooner rather than later.