“Time will tell” if Bartosz Kapustka has a future at Leicester City but the Polish winger has impressed manager Brendan Rodgers since returning from injury.
After nine months out with a cruciate ligament tear suffered on loan at City’s sister club OH Leuven, Kapustka made his return to action last week, playing 90 minutes, and setting up a goal, in the Under-23s’ 5-1 win over Wolves.
The 23-year-old has been training with Rodgers’ first team and the manager has liked what he’s seen.
“He’s been very good in training,” Rodgers said. “He’s been excellent, to be fair.
“He’s a young player who broke on the scene for Poland at the Euros in 2016. He did very well. Nobody knew much about him. He came to Leicester, went out on loan, and has been unfortunate with the injury.
“But certainly from what I’ve seen in training, he’s been impressive. He’s worked hard to get back. He’s technically gifted, he’s sharp, he looks like he wants to score a goal.
“He did well in the reserve game he played.”
Three-and-a-half years into his five-year contract at the King Power Stadium, Kapustka has only made three senior appearances for the club.
He has not been able to follow through on the hype that surrounded his performances for his country as a teenager. A tweet from City icon Gary Lineker – “Sense we'll see a lot of Kapustka in the coming years. Deliciously talented 19 year old” – has proven to be a poisoned chalice.
The Pole has seemingly failed to adjust to English football, and did not set the world alight on loan at Freiburg in Germany, nor with Leuven in the Belgian second tier, although he played an influential role in Poland Under-21s’ qualification for the Euros last summer, a tournament he missed because of his injury.
Asked if being labelled as the next big thing had affected Kapustka, Rodgers said: “I don’t know anyone who under pressure gets their best performance. You hear all this stuff after players being better when they play under pressure. There’s not many that do, it’s just how people handle it.
“For him, bless him, he’s a young player who’s moved countries, moved to a different style of football.
“It’s just time, whether he ends up staying here or not, that’s for the future, but I think it’s nice to see him back training, fit, having been out for so long.
“Time will tell with him whether he has a future here or not, but he’s certainly a talent there’s no doubt about that.”
Kapustka could move out on loan in the second half of the season, with City looking to get game-time for young players, out-of-favour stars, and those returning from injury.
So far, George Thomas has joined ADO Den Haag on loan, with Andy King on his way to Huddersfield.