Monday 25 September 2017

Leicester City recruitment under fire as Claudio Ranieri admits £7.5m signing is not ready for Premier League

Claudio Ranieri
Claudio Ranieri

John Percy

Leicester City’s summer recruitment strategy is under growing scrutiny after Claudio Ranieri revealed £7.5million signing Bartosz Kapustka is not ready to play in the Premier League.

Kapustka, the Poland international, is yet to make an appearance for the champions since signing in August and Leicester are already preparing to send the winger out on loan in the New Year.

It is alleged that Kapustka was never watched live by any members of Leicester’s recruitment team before signing and could even have been recruited off the back of his performances at Euro 2016.

Ranieri is unconvinced by the 19-year-old, the most expensive teenager in Polish history, and has given the clearest sign yet that he faces an uncertain future.

“Kapustka is a good player, getting better, but I don't know when he will be ready to play in the Premier League,” said the Leicester manager.

“He is intelligent, he plays well, but he has to understand the Premier League is a battle in every ball.”

Kapustka’s lack of impact has raised further questions over the club’s summer planning, with the departure of Steve Walsh to Everton a severe blow to their pre-season preparations.

Other key personnel have also departed Leicester in the past two years, including former head of technical scouting Rob Mackenzie, who has worked at both Tottenham Hotspur and Derby County, and Ben Wrigglesworth, who is now at Arsenal.

Eduardo Macia was appointed as head of senior recruitment in September yet there are suggestions key issues raised last season over the recruitment set-up were not properly addressed.

Before Macia’s arrival it is alleged that last season's title winners had no full-time scouts dedicated to covering the foreign market.

Leicester’s recruitment had previously been one of their biggest strengths, after Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were signed for a combined £1.4million.

N’Golo Kante, the France international midfielder, was sold to Chelsea in July with Leicester making a profit of nearly £25million, but his absence has been significant for Ranieri.

And this summer the majority of their new signings, apart from record £28million signing Islam Slimani, have struggled.

Nampalys Mendy has been out for most of the season with injury while £15million striker Ahmed Musa, defender Luis Hernandez and goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler have been underwhelming so far.

Adrien Silva, the Sporting Lisbon midfielder, came close to signing on deadline day and a renewed move to sign him is expected in January.

Michael Keane, the Burnley defender, has been frequently watched but there are fears that a deal could be difficult if Leicester are still in the bottom half of the table, despite reaching the knock-out stages of the Champions League. Genk midfielder Wilfred Ndidi is thought to be another target.

Leicester’s 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough leaves them two points adrift of the bottom three with Ranieri admitting the club are already in a relegation battle. They face Sunderland this weekend at the Stadium of Light.

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