Champions League qualification adds intrigue to 'fantastic' Leicester City summer transfer

Victor Krisitiansen with Jens Odgaard for Bologna's Serie A match against Torino
Victor Krisitiansen with Jens Odgaard for Bologna's Serie A match against Torino -Credit:Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

There’s an even greater incentive for Victor Kristiansen to want to stay at Bologna now.

This weekend, the Leicester City left-back helped his loan club qualify for the Champions League in one of the stories of the season in Italy. Bologna beat reigning champions Napoli 2-0 for their eighth straight game unbeaten before Roma lost to Atalanta.

That means Bologna are guaranteed to finish in the top five, and with Italy receiving one of the extra spots for the new Champions League format next season, it means their place is secured. It’s Bologna’s first time in Europe since playing in the Uefa Cup in 1999-2000 and their first time in the continent’s top competition since 1964-65.

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And Kristiansen has been a key player in their success. He’s started 25 of Bologna’s 34 Serie A matches since he officially arrived on loan, and they have kept clean sheets in more than half of those. He’s also chipped in with four assists.

There is a temptation to think Bologna may want to keep their squad together to attack the Champions League, meaning their qualification makes it more likely they will opt to sign Kristiansen on a permanent deal in the summer, with a reported £13m purchase option in the Dane’s loan contract. However, they may also feel that having Champions League football to offer opens up a new market of players they can attract.

What might help Kristiansen’s cause is manager Thiago Motta’s fondness of him. City saw that never-say-die commitment and work-rate from the 21-year-old during his brief time at the King Power Stadium, and Motta loves it too.

The former Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSG midfielder said of Kristiansen last month: “He's a fantastic boy. I love his attitude when he loses the ball, because it's similar to mine when I was 16 and I was in Barcelona, in the reaction after the mistake, in trying to recover the ball. It's fantastic, that's what I want to see. I'm very happy.”

Even with City in the Premier League, Kristiansen is unlikely to want to return. It was not City’s fall into the Championship that made him desperate to leave, but rather Enzo Maresca’s plans for him.

As part of his system, Maresca wanted Kristiansen to play as Callum Doyle and James Justin have this season, starting at full-back but then dropping into a back three when City were in possession. But Kristiansen wasn’t a fan of that idea.

He said upon arriving at Bologna: “When Leicester changed manager they wanted me to play as a central defender, but I preferred to continue playing in my role. I told my agent that I needed to change teams to be a full-back.”

While Maresca may make slight tweaks for the new campaign, it’s unlikely he’ll move away from his tried-and-tested set-up. A sale looks more likely then, than a reintegration into the team.

If that’s the case, City will hope to get something wrapped up sharpish so the deal comes into their accounts for this season and limits the chances of a Profit and Sustainability rules breach. But that may be difficult with Kristiansen expected to be at the Euros with Denmark throughout June.

Would you want to see Kristiansen brought back into the fold at City? Let us know in the comments section below.