After making the move from Atalanta to become Leicester City’s first summer signing earlier this month, there’s no doubt that Timothy Castagne has made an instant impact in a Foxes shirt.
Having made his debut during City’s 3-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion in their Premier League curtain-raiser, Castagne scored the first goal with an excellent header, while putting in an impressive all-round display in the meantime.
With the ability to play in both full-back positions, the Belgian has given the Foxes versatility, and without the injured Ricardo Pereira, he has slotted into the right side of defence, fitting right into Brendan Rodgers’ system in the meantime.
Castagne backed up a brilliant first outing with another sturdy performance against Burnley, assisting Harvey Barnes’ leveller mid-way through the first half, before directly creating the second goal which saw Erik Pieters put the ball into his own net. He was also solid when doing his defensive duties, making 11 duels and four recoveries which kept the Clarets relatively quiet despite their two goals.
Fitted straight into the system
With Rodgers adopting with a 4-1-4-1 formation to begin the 2020/21 season without a natural no.10 in the Starting XI and with Nampalys Mendy in a defensive midfield position, this has allowed Leicester to be protected in the middle of the park and move the ball out in wide areas. The introduction of Castagne has meant that he can do the role of being up and down, giving support in attacking areas, while doing a solid job at the back.
The possession-based style of play which worked so well for City last term has continued and Castagne fits straight into that. The 24-year-old has completed an average of 64 passes per match in his two appearances so far and showed good composure on the ball to pick out a man when required to do so. With the movement inside the penalty area being so effective, Castagne has been able to deliver some excellent crosses for the forwards to get on the end of – something the Foxes missed after the restart.
Previous experience playing a similar way with Atalanta, where he reached the Champions League quarter-finals, the full-back is flourishing in the way Rodgers wants to play, and with back-to-back victories to start the season, it seems to be paying off.
Ability to get forward
The way Leicester play allows their full-backs to push forward and overlap the wingers which causes extra bodies to put the opposition back-line under pressure but still be covered when being countered. Castagne has been able to push into wide areas high up the pitch and has given other teams someone else to worry about, which has helped the Foxes to conjure-up more opportunities, scoring the most goals in the process.
Ayoze Perez, who has started the campaign on right-wing just in-front of Castagne, has had the license to drift inside, creating room for overlapping runs and causing defences an extra body to worry about. This has allowed striker Jamie Vardy to receive much-needed support on his own but still have that attacking width and threat from wide positions.
This has been a similar pattern on the left side too, with James Justin and Harvey Barnes working well, seeing the latter fill positions inside the box, which led to scoring against Burnley and having lots of chances at West Brom.
The Belgian Connection
Following the arrival of Youri Tielemans then Dennis Praet the same summer, Castagne is currently the third Belgium international to be representing the Foxes, and the trio have all began the campaign in fine form.
Praet has a goal and an assist to his name so far this term, while Tielemans has shone in midfield with two quality performances and always has the ability to unlock defences within an instance. With the score level during the Foxes’ game against Burnley, the former Monaco man found a superb pass to play in Castagne inside the right channel which led to the own goal. This was a moment of brilliance which deserved more credit, but if it is anything to go by ahead of a long season for Leicester, then they could be in with another positive campaign.
Having all played for Belgium’s first team, they have 44 international caps between them and four goals, with a wealth of competitive games in there alongside some of the world’s best talent, and they have benefited from that. High-profile quality like that can only help Leicester to strengthen their grip on at least a Europa League spot once again.