Could
Leicester City really sign Francisco Trincão?
Trincao in action for former club Braga in the UEFA Europa League | Photo: Getty/ Quality Sport Images

Leicester City have been linked with a surprise move for Barcelona winger Francisco Trincao.

According to Fabrizio Romano, the Foxes are planning a two-year loan offer for the Portuguese starlet with an obligation to buy for £45m at the conclusion at that period.

At 20 years old, the former Braga man has developed a reputation as one of the most promising players in Portuguese football, an aspect that convinced Spanish giants Barcelona to shell out approximately €31m for his signature in January.

Having never appeared for the Blaugrana, is it plausible that the Foxes could recruit Trincao ahead of their return to European football in the UEFA Europa League?

‘It’s about getting more creativity and quality’

On paper, the youngster is just the type of player that would fit Leicester City and particularly Brendan Rodgers extremely well. The Northern-Irishman has already confirmed that he intends to add to the Foxes’ attacking options ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.

He said: "The attacking area [needs to improve]. We have made great strides and we have improved. We knew we needed 65 plus goals and we got 67. But to challenge the sides above it's about getting more creativity and quality.

“We've been hurt in this last period with three of the back four out, but I'm pleased with how we defend. We would like to add more creativity at the top end."

Trincao brings just that. Equally adept at scoring and creating, he has just come off the back of an extremely productive season having scored nine and provided 13 assists in all competitions including the Europa League. Only youngster Harvey Barnes can come anywhere near those numbers from wide positions at the King Power Stadium with seven goals and nine assists. He will surely then provide considerable competition to the likes of Barnes, Ayoze Perez, Demarai Gray and Marc Albrighton.

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Plenty of potential

His profile also lines up well with the vision of Rodgers and Leicester of young, hard-working players who have the potential to improve; a la James Maddison, Youri Tielemans, Barnes and Ben Chilwell.

Rodgers has also been here before. Whilst he has improved those already in the East-Midlands, the former Celtic and Liverpool man has also had great influence on youngsters at his former clubs. Moussa Dembele developed greatly whilst in Glasgow, with another useful case study being the development of Raheem Sterling at Liverpool. The Englishman’s breakthrough season came under Rodgers as the Reds almost lifted the Premier League title in 2013/14, scoring ten goals and providing nine assists.

If Rodgers can get the same tune out of Trincao then he will surely turn into some player.

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What’s his situation at Barcelona?

Whilst it’s one thing to look at what he would bring to the East-Midlands, it’s another thing Leicester actually securing his signature.

Having shelled out considerably for Trincao in January, it would be fair to assume that the winger is firmly in Barcelona’s future plans which would make sense considering that the current team is edging towards the end of its natural cycle. This is backed up with recent reports in Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo stating that Barca have ‘no intention’ of selling the highly-rated youngster.

He is more than likely going to have to wait his turn due to considerable competition at the Camp Nou though. Lionel Messi is still playing a key role, whilst Antoine Griezmann was only signed last summer. Luis Suarez has made his return from injury, whilst Ousmane Dembele will be hoping to get back to the form that convinced the club to bring him from Borussia Dortmund.

That foursome on their own are quite daunting to get beyond in the pecking order but even then there is mid-season signing Martin Braithwaite, wonderkid Ansu Fati and of course the returning Philippe Coutinho. Should Trincao intend on playing first-team football, his best solution might well be a move away, whether that be to Leicester or not.

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Poor finances could lead to quick sale

Despite his promising reputation, Barca could well be forced to sell anyway given the current financial situation. Even before the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it was well-broadcast that the club’s monetary situation was dire. The Spanish giants simply need to sell before they could buy.

The club have the highest wage bill in world football, whilst that accounts for 69% of their revenue; a figure that could plunge them into financial ruin. That is if they aren’t already there - their club debt could be anywhere between €460 million and €888 million. In fact, according to La Vanguardia, they are set to lose another €154 million as a result of the current worldwide health crisis.

A solution then could be a quick sale of Trincao – and profit of €17m.

After all, Barca have been selling somewhat promising players for the last few years. Some departures like Paulinho, Yerry Mina and Gerard Deulofeu made sense but the cases do not end there, just ask Paco Alcacer, Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes, Jasper Cillessen or Malcolm.

There are also a couple of examples where the club's youngsters have failed to really kick on, whether they are products of the club's famed academy La Masia or not. The aforementioned Mina was sold after just six appearances, Carles Perez was afforded only 13 first-team outings, whilst Abel Ruiz departed with just one Barca appearance to his name. Trincao will sincerely hope not to head down a similar path.

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Is there competition?

With players of Trincao’s ability, it is likely there would be interest from elsewhere and that is again the case. The same reports linking Leicester City with winger state that Serie A outfit Atalanta are also tracking him though are yet to make a move.

That could well be the sticking point. Should any club in the UEFA Champions League swoop, it might well be hard to attract him to the East-Midlands, simply because they can offer a higher package. Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta outfit have earned a minimum of €50m for their entertaining run to the competition’s quarter-finals which could increase should they edge past Paris Saint Germain in Lisbon.

It could be true that the Foxes’ revenue from the Premier League alone could bridge that gap but Atalanta have booked their place at Europe’s top table once again next season, which could see them not just be a more attractive prospect wage-wise but also for footballing opportunities.

Despite that, Leicester boss Rodgers has said that players will still be attracted to playing for the club regardless. He said: “Even if there’s no European football, it’s still a very attractive proposition to come to here.

“Forget about the Champions League and the Europa League, this is a fantastic club that has ambitions and is moving forward step by step.”

It remains to be seen whether that is indeed the case or simply false optimism from Rodgers. In the case of Trincao though, it does seem slightly unlikely that he would leave Barcelona for Leicester so soon after securing what seems like a dream move. What is certain however is that his signing would be perfect for the Foxes as they look to continue challenging football’s elite.

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