Why Nuno Mendes would be a good long-term signing for Leicester City

According to the Daily Mail, Leicester City are keeping close tabs on highly-rated Sporting Lisbon left-back Nuno Mendes ahead of the January window. Premier League rivals Newcastle United are also in the race to sign the 18-year-old, who is widely regarded as one of the best up and coming full-backs across the continent.

Mendes has drawn admiring glances from scouts of several elite clubs in Europe, having established himself as a regular fixture at the back for Sporting this season. The teenager has a hefty release clause of £40million written into his contract but the Primeira Liga giants are willing to consider offers much below than that in order to raise funds. (h/t Daily Mail)

Profile

Nuno Mendes joined Sporting Lisbon’s youth system at the age of 10 and made quick progress through the ranks to make his first-team debut during the 2019-20 season. The left-back made 9 league appearances for his boyhood club towards the back end of the previous campaign, earning rave reviews for his development. 

Why Nuno Mendes would be a good long-term investment for Wolves
Nuno Mendes has emerged as a target for Leicester City (Getty Images)

He has further consolidated his status as one of the hottest young prospects in Portugal this term, starting each of Sporting’s seven opening league fixtures. Mendes scored his first senior goal in the 2-0 win over Portimonense in October and has already delivered two man-of-the-match performances in the Primeira Liga so far.

Mendes made his debut for Portugal’s U-21 side back in September, having previously represented his nation at U-16, U-17, U-18 and U-19 levels. 

Leicester would benefit from Mendes’ potential

Leicester City aren’t really short of cover in the left-back department despite losing Ben Chilwell to Chelsea in the summer. The Foxes roped in Timothy Castagne from Atalanta to fill in the void and the Belgian international has quickly established himself as a key player under Brendan Rodgers.

Castagne has showcased his versatility to play as a full-back on either side of the pitch, helping the Foxes cope with the injury to Ricardo Pereira. James Justin has also enhanced his reputation as a utility option for the club. Besides featuring as a full-back and wing-back on both sides, the former Luton Town starlet has also excelled as a centre-back in a back-three system.

Liverpool reportedly tracking Nuno Mendes of Sporting in Portugal
Mendes has made 18 appearances for Sporting Lisbon in all competitions so far (Getty Images)

Furthermore, the emergence of academy graduate Luke Thomas as a versatile left-sided operator means that Leicester are pretty well-stocked in that department. However, with Christian Fuchs nearing his twilight at 34 and out of contract next summer, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Foxes to line up a younger alternative with one eye on the future.

To put things into perspective, Leicester might not be crying out for a new left-back at the moment but Nuno Mendes seems like an outstanding talent who has shown obvious signs of evolving into a world-class footballer in the years to come. The Foxes should, therefore, be wise enough to try and compete with the other potential suitors for his signature when the market reopens in January. 

Verdict

Rodgers already has an excellent track record of nurturing young talent in his managerial career and summer recruit Wesley Fofana has already started to enjoy the benefits of playing under the Northern Irishman’s stewardship.

Liverpool reportedly tracking Nuno Mendes of Sporting in Portugal
Source: Getty Images

Despite being a teenager with not much senior experience, Rodgers has backed Fofana as a regular starter in the PL this season.

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That clearly shows the manager is not afraid to throw youngsters straight into the mix if they are genuinely good enough to do a job for the team.

Nuno Mendes might not be the finished article just yet but has showcased the potential to go on and have a bright future in the game. Having said that, Leicester City completing a move for the Portuguese starlet in January would pay off handsomely for their long-term plans moving forward.

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