It has been an interesting summer so far for Premier League champions Leicester City. It all started so well with Jamie Vardy snubbing Arsenal to sign a contract extension, and the signings of Ron-Robert Zieler, Nampalys Mendy and Ahmed Musa soon followed. Following that, Ranieri was forced to swallow the bitter pill of losing N’Golo Kante to Chelsea, with increasing uncertainty over the future of star wide-man Riyad Mahrez also hanging over the Italian manager’s head.
In a bid to remedy the situation, Ranieri has been looking to bolster his attacking options, and to this end he has sought out a player who is capable of playing out wide and through the centre behind the forwards, in the shape of one of Euro 2016’s standout young players: Bartosz Kapustka of Poland.
The 19-year old plies his trade in his home country with Krakow club Cracovia in the Ekstraklasa league, and having made his international debut in 2015 against Gibraltar, he has burst onto the scene since, winning 11 caps for his country and becoming one of Euro 2016 most widely discussed players after a scintillating display in Poland’s opening game of the tournament, a 1-0 win over Northern Ireland in Nice.
Ranieri has been seeking to bolster his options out wide, potentially in preparation for the possible departure of Algerian international Mahrez, and having had an initial £5.25m bid turned down, the Foxes have gone back in with an improved offer of £7.4million in an effort to prise away the youngster, with other suitors including Everton, Southampton and Borussia Dortmund reportedly interested according to the Daily Mail. Unsurprising after the world was able to take a glimpse at the young Pole’s talent as he weaved his magic in France.
Were Leicester to succeed in their approach for the youngster, they would be acquiring an exciting youngster who may not only be one for the future, but may even have an immediate impact to make, given the manner in which he stole the show for his country from a misfiring Robert Lewandowski at the Euros.
Given the player’s age, he demonstrates a lack of fear of the opponent akin to that of a young Neymar. Any game, be it Legia Warsaw, Wisla Krakow, Northern Ireland or Germany, the player puts in the same tremendous work ethic and is willing to take on any full-back. Against Northern Ireland, he completed 82% of his passes and almost scored a fantastic goal in the first-half, giving Aaron Hughes and the Northern Ireland defence a torrid time throughout the clash. A winger who carries such a licence to thrill, and such a desire to beat his man will be absolutely necessary if Leicester need to fill any hole left by Riyad Mahrez at the King Power Stadium.
A one-sided and somewhat foregone conclusion that game may have been, but the occasion was lit up by the exciting and dynamic display of the youngster. Not only was he a bright spark in attack, but he showed a willingness to track-back which is essential to Ranieri’s philosophy; the hard-work ethic of his players in pressing the opposition, tracking back, covering ground and winning the ball back was vital to much of Leicester’s success in 2015/16, and the Italian will be looking to players which a similar mindset to fit into his system.
Kapustka excelled particularly in breaking up the counter-attacks when Northern Ireland attempted to break, to put it simply, the youngster with no prior experience at such a level put in a complete performance for a wide-player, which for Ranieri will serve as great encouragement not only in fitting into his side, but in hopes that the player can make the transition quickly from the Ekstraklasa to the demands of the Premier League.
Of course Europe will also be in the forefront of Ranieri’s mind as Leicester gear up for a maiden UEFA Champions League campaign, and the strength in depth and impact on the pitch the player will provide will prove just as critical.
Kapustka’s standout attributes include his pace, stamina and strong tactical awareness, as well as a keen eye for goal when looking to cut inside. Having been bled into the first team fold at Cracovia slowly, he had earned his starting spot domestically and attracted the attention of Poland manager Adam Nawalka. Now one of Poland’s most promising young stars, he is a regular feature for his country either on the flank or through the middle, wherever need may require him.
The unpredictability for the opponent in letting a youngster unleash his talent on the wings is always a healthy prospect for any manager, and with this youngster touted as being able and talented enough to step into the boots of Robert Lewandowski and perhaps even hit the same heights as other Polish greats down the years such as Zbigniew Boniek, there is every indication that he has a bright future ahead of him. Leicester will certainly have a battle on their hands given the calibre of clubs interested in an acquisition of the winger’s services, but he would be a wise and cheap investment considering his potential. Though now he is no longer an unknown. Everyone knows the name of Polish wonderkid Bartosz Kaputska now, the shroud of unpredictability which he used as his springboard to shock opponents at Euro 2016 has fallen. Thus he has much to prove at his next club, since it will only get more difficult for him from here on in, though if he is to succeed, expect this young man to be on the lips of fans worldwide in the near future.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Marcin Kalita