Dennis Praet speaks out on Leicester City future as he reveals 'painful' part of five-year spell

Dennis Praet is leaving Leicester City this summer as a free agent
Dennis Praet is leaving Leicester City this summer as a free agent -Credit:Stephen White - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dennis Praet has played his final game for Leicester City with the Belgian midfielder seeking “something new” this summer as he leaves the King Power Stadium as a free agent.

Five years since he signed from Sampdoria in an £18m deal, Praet is now preparing to say goodbye at the end of his contract next month. He leaves with an FA Cup winner’s medal and a Championship title, and having enjoyed decent spells where his technical abilities and teamwork shone through. But ultimately, too many injuries and a lack of goalscoring threat stopped him ever establishing himself as a key player at City.

A return to Italy could be on the cards, with Praet ranking his years in Serie A as his best. He had three seasons at Sampdoria, while he also spent a year on loan at Torino in 21-22, with City blocking a permanent move back to the club.

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“I'm at the end of my contract and ready for something new,” Praet told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. “I am now 29 and physically at the peak of my career. I definitely want to become important somewhere again, so that I can find the fun in the game again.

“(Being a free agent is) certainly not frightening, because I think I have already shown enough of my worth. But the uncertainty is great. Where are we going to live? Where do the children go to school? These are questions that you want answered quickly.

“Fortunately, there are already a number of things going on, so I am quite relaxed. I just have to be a little more patient. It is logical that some clubs do not yet know their budgets.

“It's true that Italy will always have the edge. I played three years at Sampdoria and one year at Torino and those were my best years abroad. Tactical football in Italy also appeals to me enormously.

“We had an Italian coach this season with Enzo Maresca and he made an impression. Especially on the English players. They said they had never learned so much. Apart from that, life in Italy is also great, and I speak the language.

“The focus now is on finding the right club. I am realistic enough to realise that a top-four team from a top competition will not suddenly come and get me. But if I end up at a nice mid-range club where I can become a key player, that's also good. And if it is in a location where it is fun for my family to stay, then that is a bonus.

“In Leicester they thought I was a bit too good (to be sold to Torino), too useful, too versatile to let me go cheaply. I'm not an argumentative person either, I'm not the man to push through a transfer. But Torino is a team I would definitely listen to now.”

Praet was close to being a key player at City this season, with Maresca picking him out in the summer as the midfielder most natural for one of the number eight roles. But a serious back injury in August kept him out for four months, by which time Wilfred Ndidi had made the spot his own.

That’s a theme from across Praet’s City career. He finishes with 107 appearances and while he doesn’t regret joining the club, he says the “painful” part is how little he managed to play.

“I was a starter throughout the preparation, but then I had bad luck,” Praet adds. “I suffered a back injury and was out for two or three months. During that period, the team did extremely well, winning nine times in a row and taking the lead. When I came back, I no longer had the same status as before.

“Leicester is not a Championship team either, the competition is enormous. Ndidi is always at the same level, (Harry) Winks came from Tottenham, (Kiernan) Dewsbury-Hall did very well. I've never known it any other way here. I used to compete against (Youri) Tielemans, (James) Maddison, you name it.

“(The Championship title) is still a prize, and I've played matches. I have my share in that. But I didn't make nearly as many minutes as I wanted. I was part of the team, but not one hundred percent. Players who play every week and are important have a different feeling of euphoria than I do.

“I don't regret it (joining City). I really wanted to go to the Premier League, that choice was quickly made. I have also experienced many beautiful moments. But I just wanted to play a lot more. That's the painful part.”

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