Leicester City have completed the signing of Chelsea midfield Cesare Casadei on loan. This is a move that has been in the works for a long time. It took a little longer than expected to complete due to the Blues capturing all of the remaining midfielders in Europe. Now that he’s in the fold, let’s take a closer look and see what we got.
Casadei started his career in his native Italy, joining Cervia and later Cesena. In 2018, at the age of 15, he moved to Inter Milan. He played in the youth teams for the Nerazzurri until his move to Chelsea in 2022. He spent last spring on loan at Reading in the League Championship, scoring one goal in fifteen appearances.
He’s also worked his way up through the youth ranks in the Italy setup, starting with the U16s and playing at every level up to the U21s. He’s scored 15 goals in 34 international matches including 7 in the U20 World Cup, famously winning the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball.
How He Plays
Given the lack of senior appearances, the statistical record is sparse. Fortunately, in Casadei’s case, the numbers confirm the visual evidence. The Ravenna native has two obvious outstanding strengths he brings to the table. He is a powerful, direct dribbler who can bring the ball out of defence. In addition, he can score from distance with either foot.
In addition to those virtues, he does yeoman work in the defensive half. He wins balls more through anticipation than powerful tackling, but he will intercept anything that’s played too close to him. He’s also a big lad at 6’1” and is surprisingly good in the air for a midfielder.
His passing game is a step or two behind his other skills. It’s not that he’s a poor passer, but he prefers to carry the ball forward and play a simple pass rather launch line-breaking balls. He has the ability to play all manner of passes, long diagonal balls or clever through balls, but he seldom does so.
This may sound like damning a player with faint praise, but his overall skill set is not wildly different from Boubakary Soumare’s. Casadei is younger than Soumare and his finish is much more advanced, but other than that? It’s a similar set of skills.
His Likely Role
There may be no easier question than this one. Casadei is going to be the right-sided central midfielder opposite Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. He’ll be expected to press, win the ball, and get forward into the box in attack. Think “what Wilfred Ndidi was trying to do during the Coventry match.”
This is not too different from the role he played at Reading last year when he played on the right side of central midfield in a 4-4-2. Maresca has preferred a 4-3-3 in defence and a 3-4-3 in attack, so there may be a learning curve. Given Casadei’s credentials, it seems likely that he is tactically astute enough to pick it up quickly.
The Big Question: Is there an option to buy?
Chelsea will not include any buy option in Cesare Casadei’s next loan deal — this is the plan. Casadei, also happy at Chelsea and trusts the project. ✨ #CFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 20, 2023
Many loan bids are on the table to be discussed soon. No talks with Juventus; they’re happy with their own talents. pic.twitter.com/8tIVlD0uNG
This is Chelsea. They like to own every player on the planet and then sell them to a Saudi side at a huge markup in order to balance the books. I’m not hating; that’s just how they operate. If Casadei is as good as he’s expected to be, the odds of our being able to get him in a permanent deal aren’t especially good.