How Leicester City's first summer signing will fit into Steve Cooper's squad

New Leicester City manager Steve Cooper at the King Power Stadium
-Credit: (Image: Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

While Leicester City are saying goodbye to one of the best players their academy has produced in recent years in Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, they will welcome a talent from the Chelsea youth ranks in return.

In a separate £5m deal, Michael Golding will be moving to the King Power Stadium, and will become the club’s first signing of the summer (unless Abdul Fatawu steals in first). But just who is the 18-year-old midfielder? We’ve taken a closer look at the teenager and where he might fit in at King Power Stadium.

Who is Michael Golding?

It would not be a surprise if Golding’s name had not appeared on the radar of City supporters before the weekend. As things stand, he’s a hot prospect on the verge of a breakthrough, but without yet establishing himself as a senior player.

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He’s played just once for the Chelsea first team, coming off the bench in an FA Cup tie against Preston at the start of the year. But doing so as a 17-year-old – he only turned 18 at the end of May – marks him out as one to watch for the future.

Golding only stepped up from Chelsea’s under-18s to their under-21s last summer, getting one goal and four assists in 13 outings across Premier League 2 and the EFL Trophy. He did enough to catch the eye of Maurcio Pochettino in that time, while he has been in the England youth set-up for a while too.

He played for England under-17s at the World Cup at the end of last year. Since then, he’s stepped up to the under-18s and captained them in the spring.

How does he play?

He’s a forward-thinking midfielder, operating as a number eight or directly behind a striker, and has been praised for how he breaks out from his own half, carrying the ball with good speed and close control. He looks like he’s got some silky skills in his locker and an eye for a pass too.

He’s been commended for his work-rate, while despite his age, he has the frame to impose himself physically, or at the very least hold off opponents who try to nab the ball from him. Captaining Chelsea and England at various age groups, his leadership qualities have also been praised.

What’s been said about him?

There have been plenty of onlookers, whether journalists or supporters, who have tipped Golding for big things. But it’s those who work with him whose opinions perhaps matter more.

Hassan Sulaiman, Chelsea’s under-18s coach, said of Golding just before the Under-17 World Cup last winter: “A central attacking midfielder, Michael thrives in tight areas, showcasing the technical ability that sets him apart. He can stretch defences with his runs and movement, and confidently contributes to goalscoring and assisting.

“A consistent presence in previous England camps, Michael is a strong contender to take the captain's armband at the tournament because of his leadership qualities.”

How will he fit in at City?

It feels premature to say he’s going to be a direct replacement for Dewsbury-Hall. More likely, given his inexperience even at under-21 level, it seems Golding will go into the club’s development squad for the upcoming campaign.

But at the moment, City are short on midfielders, so he could get a look-in during pre-season and maybe the chance to impress Steve Cooper. The new manager’s own involvement with the England youth set-up and his reputation for trusting and developing young talent should mean he’s keen to assess Golding’s credentials.

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