Leicester City News, English Premier League News
Dennis Praet has always been a talented footballer and was once touted as the next big thing by Arsene Wenger as the former Arsenal boss tried to bring him to the Emirates.
However, while he would reject the chance to play in the Premier League at that stage of his career, he has managed to come full circle with his career after signing for Leicester City from Sampdoria in the summer transfer window.
It was a frantic last-minute deal that for a short period of time didn’t look like it was going to happen. But, in the end, it was complete for a fee in the region of £18 million, and Praet couldn’t have been happier with his decision.
Reflecting on the deadline day move, the Belgium international said: “It was a really close call because it was deadline day.
“I arrived at the training ground, but there were some small issues with the contract, and I think it was only one hour before the deadline that everything was figured out, so I signed just in time.
But I arrived here with the thought that if I sign, I could go back to get the stuff I needed. But the gaffer really wanted me to stay for the first game. I had no boots, so I did two training sessions and the first game with somebody else’s. I don’t even know whose they were.”
Praet makes up a midfield duo that are both Belgium international teammates following the arrival on a full-time basis of Youri Tielemans. The new arrival was quick to get on the phone to his compatriot to learn more about the club.
He also did research of his own, as he revealed: “When I heard about the interest from Leicester in me, it was important for me to see how they played because I didn’t know exactly.
“At that moment I was on the coach with Sampdoria, we were driving to a friendly game, and I watched the second half of Leicester v Atalanta,” says Praet, smiling at the thought.
“I know Atalanta from Italy – they’re an outstanding team. But I was really surprised by the way Leicester were playing – with a really high press, really nice football, a lot of chances. At that moment, I was sold. Of course after that, when it was really getting serious, I spoke with Youri about: ‘How is the gaffer? How is the training centre? How are the players?’ And he was so positive.”
Praet would have been forgiven for thinking he was actually on a basketball court when he made his debut for the club against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The game was high intensity, and the action went from end to end, but when he made his arrival, he had little doubt about the quality of the team he had signed for.
He continued: “We must be a team that tries to get into that top six, and I think we have the players to do it.”
The midfielder was also realistic when he was a younger player as he revealed why he turned down the option to join Arsenal from Genk as a 15-year-old. He said: “I had three or four perfect options.
We went to visit Arsenal, Lille, Ajax and Anderlecht. Arsenal would have been a really nice step, and I could earn a lot more money there than in Anderlecht, but at that moment my education was not finished and that was really important for me – there was no insurance that I would become a good football player.”
For now anyway, Praet will be a crucial member of the Leicester City side that will attempt to break into the top six.
Their start to the season and the signing they have made has seen their rise fall dramatically, and they have a realistic chance according to the leading bookmakers’.