Fast, quiet, tall and tough, Wesley Fofana is simply PHENOMENAL

Wesley Fofana is a phenomenal player who would be a success at Chelsea if he moved

To those who don’t follow Leicester closely, it may seem strange that Chelsea are considering whether to pay a world-record fee for a man who has yet to make 100 senior appearances at club level. However, those who have seen Wesley Fofana play regularly understand this perfectly.

On Thursday – for the first time this summer – the public stance of the Foxes seemed to soften slightly on Fofana.

Boss Brendan Rodgers had been saying throughout August that the French defender is not for sale, but his statements yesterday came with less conviction.

Chelsea have made two bids for Fofana, the second worth around £65m. Both have been rejected. Asked if there had been a third bid for Fofana, Rodgers said: “I don’t know. There were two bids, but again not far off what the club would think. The point to reiterate again is that we are not looking to sell Wesley, that is the key point.

Wesley Fofana is a phenomenal player who would be a success at Chelsea if he moved

“He is not a player we are actively looking to move on, but naturally if there is interest from other clubs then of course the club takes that into account.

“He’s a top young defender and there aren’t too many at his age. He’s someone we’d like to keep here, but we’ll have to wait and see how he develops.”

While Leicester accept they cannot keep Fofana, who signed a new five-year deal in March, indefinitely, they would like to keep him for one more season.

However, if they receive an offer higher than the current world record for a defender (the £80m Manchester United paid them for Harry Maguire three years ago), it would test the club’s resolve.

When Fofana joined Leicester as a 19-year-old in 2020, he had made just 26 senior appearances at club level and the £31.5m fee paid to Saint-Etienne came as a shock. Now, that seems like a very smart move.

After a stellar debut campaign, Fofana missed the opening seven months of last season after breaking his leg and damaging ankle ligaments in a pre-season friendly against Villarreal. When he returned it was as if he had never been, and Leicester looked more durable at the back.

Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers claimed Chelsea's bids have not come close to a £80m valuation.

Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers claimed Chelsea’s bids have not come close to a £80m valuation.

It’s hard to spot a weakness in Fofana’s game.

His height, 6ft 3in, means he is dominant in the air, and his touch is as assured as his time in the tackle. He’s not afraid to carry the ball out of defense and even when he’s off for a split second, an occasional flaw, he can usually rely on his pace to get him out of trouble.

Despite a thin frame, Fofana is a tough customer who enjoys physical battles with centre-forwards.

“He’s a phenomenal talent who will go straight to the top of the game,” Rodgers said shortly after Fofana’s comeback. “He has brains for the game and when he is on the field, he has no respect for the opponents.

“In my experience working with world-class players, they have great human qualities, but when they’re on the pitch, they’re super aggressive and that’s exactly what he is.”

When Fofana suffered his injury, he had the option of returning to France to complete part of his rehabilitation, but chose to stay at Leicester, impressing senior figures at the club.

The 21-year-old signed a new five-year deal at the King Power Stadium in March 2022.

He has developed a close relationship with former Arsenal centre-back Kolo Toure, who is now part of Leicester’s coaching staff. Rodgers has described Toure as a “big brother” to Fofana, although he has so far resisted Toure’s calls to declare his allegiance to the Ivory Coast, rather than France, his country of birth.

Watching from his first-floor office at the club’s £95million training ground, Rodgers was amazed by the drive and dedication Fofana showed during his recovery, even when he was months away of his reappearance.

During one of his first training sessions back with the team, it was not a given that Fofana would try to ease his way gently as he faced tackles from the outset, with Ayoze Perez on the receiving end of a particularly tough challenge.

Thrown on at the end against Rennes in March for his first appearance of the season, Fofana rallied the back four in superb fashion and headed in the goal that secured Leicester’s place in the last 16 of the League Conference Europe.

If he continues to progress at his current rate, Fofana will surely be in France manager Didier Deschamps’ thoughts as the world champions defend their trophy in Qatar this winter.

He is uncapped at senior level but has played five times for France Under-21s.

Even when Leicester agreed Fofana’s new contract, they knew the offers would come. And whether Fofana leaves this summer or next, they know they are guaranteed a huge profit.

#Fast #quiet #tall #tough #Wesley #Fofana #simply #PHENOMENAL

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