Another one of England’s great young talents has decided to go and hone his skills away from these shores this week. After months of contractual trouble at Sheffield Wednesday, top young striker George Hirst has a new club. The son of former Owls legend David, the 19-year-old has headed to Belgium. The teenager, who was the top-scorer at the 2017 Toulon Tournament, has joined OH Leuven.
But is this now a clear precursor to an eventual move to Leicester City?
The Belgian second-tier side are owned by King Power. The same group behind the success of Leicester City in recent years is also funding this little known Belgian outfit. They even appointed former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson as the new manager at the club, despite his controversial departure from the East Midlands club in 2015.
Leicester were one of many teams mentioned with an interest in Hirst over the past few months. But first-team football at the club would definitely have been hard to come by. At Leuven, Hirst will no doubt be hoping to go straight into the first-team under the guidance of Pearson.
His next hope will be to find the goalscoring form he showcased in 2016-17 when he scored over 40 goals for club and country. That was before his contract issue saw him cast aside by Wednesday for most of last season.
If he does find himself in Belgium and becomes the striker everyone believes he can, then surely Leicester City will soon plot his return to England.
Three reasons Danny Ward’s Leicester City move makes perfect sense
The Welshman looks set to move to the King Power.
The transfer makes sense for both parties, after Liverpool added goalkeeping talent that would have restricted Ward’s opportunities even more.
Here are three reasons why the switch is a smart one for the Welshman.
Alisson’s arrival extinguished Ward’s Liverpool hopes
Liverpool completed the signing of Roma goalkeeper Alisson after a prolonged transfer saga, which pushed Ward even further down the pecking order at Anfield.
Since joining in 2012, the Welsh international has made a grand total of three first team appearances for the Reds. The lack of minutes meant it was time for Ward to move on, and the addition of one of the best goalkeepers in the world confirmed that decision.
Ward will enjoy increased playing time
In Percy’s tweet announcing the deal between the two clubs, he claimed Ward was being brought in to compete with Kasper Schmeichel, not to be a replacement.
Nevertheless, if Schmeichel stays Ward would still have the opportunity to play consistent football in cup competitions, which is much more than he enjoyed at Anfield.
The Welsh number one spot could soon be his
With a smart move to the King Power Stadium, Ward could possibly claim the Leicester number one role. And with positive performances, he could add to his four Wales caps and make a case to become the Welsh number one.
At only 25 years of age, he has plenty of time to ignite his international career, and at the perfect time due to the expanded Euro and World Cup fields.
Three goalkeepers Leicester should target if Kasper Schmeichel leaves
Chelsea are keen to sign Kasper Schmeichel, which would leave Leicester in need of a replacement.
Sky Sports state the Denmark international is a target for new Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri amidst continued speculation that Thibaut Courtois is off to Real Madrid – a transfer that now seems increasingly likely to go ahead.
After featuring for his nation at the World Cup, speculation suggesting 31-year-old Schmeichel will seek a new challenge for the 2018/19 season has been growing, with Sky Sports previously reporting the Premier League winner is also a target for Roma.
If Schmeichel is to leave, then Leicester boss Claude Puel must invest funds on a new goalkeeper in the market and these three options would be tremendous signings.
“Those Champions league nights are special. There is something about the night games, going away to different cities, it makes it unique.”
England international Jack Butland may not have been first-choice for Gareth Southgate during the club’s tremendous run to the World Cup semi-finals but a major transfer could be on the cards before the window shuts.
Stoke City‘s relegation means that Butland will find it difficult to fight for a spot in the national side next season if he remains in the second-tier and Leicester would be the ideal surroundings for the 25-year-old, though a stern fight may emerge for his services.
The Sun reported Chelsea’s interest earlier this month but the Blues pursuit of Schmeichel suggests that their targets have changed, while the Mirror has thrown doubt on Liverpool‘s reported interest as Jurgan Klopp is content with the goalkeeping options he has at Anfield.
Boasting vast experience at international level, after starring for Colombia in the previous two World Cups, David Ospina also possesses Premier League and European experience – all of which would encourage Leicester to make a move.
Arsenal are ready to approve a departure following their capture of Germany international Bernd Leno and the Mirror states that the Gunners will accept a fee of just £6 million for the 29-year-old due to the fact he has entered the final 12 months of his contract.
Boca Juniors are also in the hunt for Ospina’s services but the player’s agent told El Crack Deportivo that a move to South America would be difficult to materialise and his preference is to remain in European football.
Prior to the World Cup, Cho Hyun-Woo told ESPN that he dreams of playing in England and the performances of the South Korea goalkeeper in Russia have increased the possibility of that becoming a reality.
The 26-year-old starred for his nation in a difficult group alongside Mexico, Sweden and Germany but stunned the latter with a shock victory that saw the defending champions knocked out prematurely, with Hyun-Woo capturing plenty of attention for a number of superb stops.
An advisor of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told Dagbladet that the Reds should secure a move for the Daegu FC player and Leicester should be alerted as a result, as he could prove to be a superb acquisition.
Leicester City would be in dreamland with reported Ahmed Musa windfall
Ahmed Musa has struggled at Leicester City but thrived for his country.
Nigeria fell agonisingly short of knocking Argentina out of the World Cup this summer and many of their players impressed fans with their displays. One player who caught the eye was well-known to fans of one Premier League club. Leicester City forward Ahmed Musa was brilliant for Nigeria in Russia.
Such form has now seen him linked with plenty of moves away from the King Power. The latest reports involved Saudi Arabian outfit Al Nassr. They are seemingly ready to pay a whopping £30 million for the player, as reported by Nigerian source Own Goal Nigeria.
That fee has now been skewed in other reports, with the Leicester Mercury reporting the fee at £40 million. That fee has also been suggested by Score Nigeria earlier this month whilst the Daily Trust also report the news with that fee attached.
So there is clearly some disparity between the reports.
But at £30 or £40 million this would be great business for Leicester.
Signed for just £16 million in the summer of 2016, the Nigerian managed just five goals in 33 games for the Foxes before being loaned back to CSKA last winter.
Leicester would, therefore, stand to make £24 million if the £40 million assessments are correct. If not, then £14 million would not be bad either.
He would also be sold to a nation where his form would be out of sight and out of mind. Leicester are unlikely to feel any repercussions personally if he is sent to Dubai. If he scores a litany of goals? Then people will just criticise the standard of football.
At £30 million it is a magnificent deal for Leicester. At £40 million, they are in dreamland.