Caglar Soyuncu: Leicester City's new defensive hero helping ease the loss of Harry Maguire

Caglar Soyuncu: Turkish defender has helped ease the loss of Harry Maguire at Leicester
Caglar Soyuncu: Turkish defender has helped ease the loss of Harry Maguire at Leicester

Leicester City left it late in the summer to sell Harry Maguire to Manchester United and many thought it would come back to bite them.

They were linked with bids for Brighton defender Lewis Dunk and James Tarkowski of Burnley, but signed none and it looks like they may have a ready-made replacement from within.

Brendan Rodgers handed an opportunity to Caglar Soyuncu and the Turkish defender has grabbed it with both hands.

Soyuncu, a 23-year-old with 'huge potential' according to Rodgers, arrived at the club last summer from German side Freiburg. Man City and Arsenal were also linked, but the Foxes won the race for his signature in a potential £19million deal.

He made just eight appearances in all competitions in his first campaign in the East Midlands, and he has now been rewarded for his patience.

Rodgers saw enough from him in the Premier League win at Huddersfield in April, and then pre-season, to slot him into the centre of defence for the start of the campaign in the wake of Maguire's August departure.

Soyuncu has fitted in seamlessly, partnering Jonny Evans in the centre of defence.

He helped keep a clean sheet on the opening day against Wolves before going on to help the Foxes go unbeaten in their first five games (including the Carabao Cup) leading up to the international break.

He has pace and strength and has shown a composed head on young shoulders to quickly become a hit with the fans. He plays with his head up, and has good feet and confidence on the ball, often dribbling out from the back - which may not be so popular with his boss in the long run.

While dealing with Chelsea's Christian Pulisic in the corner at Stamford Bridge last month, he dazzled with fancy feet and showboated with a dink (in the tweet, above) to find a team-mate.

At the weekend, he then sent Bournemouth's Callum Wilson the wrong way not once, but twice in quick succession (below) including a brave Cruyff turn on the edge of the box.

"We don't want him to do that," joked Rodgers to Leicestershire Live after their 3-1 victory over Bournemouth.

"But we ask him to make the first pass, when you have got to defend it, defend it, but when you have the possibility, make the first pass, and he is doing that very well.

"I had hoped that he could go in and have the impact he has had. I think I have seen enough of him in the Huddersfield game (last season) and in training.

"If you look at him in our third goal, that's exactly what we want, defenders who defend forward. I think you sense the supporters are really enjoying watching him play."

On his flair, Rodgers continued: "He does a couple of wee maverick things that makes you wonder sometimes, but he is very young, you can see he is aggressive, attacks the ball well.

"For me, first and foremost, he can defend. He will learn from the first goal because he has got to track the runner. On that one there he has got to go with Callum Wilson into the box when he is so close to the goal.

"So these are things that show his youth, but he has huge potential and he is very good."

What also helps endear him to Leicester fans is how he is making Maguire's departure to Old Trafford bearable.

His early stats so far make for pleasant reading in comparison to Maguire's at United. Granted, in different sides, but two teams both aiming for the top six and beyond:

Caglar Soyuncu v Harry Maguire: Comparing the defenders' stats so far in the Premier League
Caglar Soyuncu v Harry Maguire: Comparing the defenders' stats so far in the Premier League

More importantly too, the player still is not the finished article.

He showed that in Bournemouth's equaliser when he tried to step up for a high line to play offside, leaving Callum Wilson through on goal, but he will learn. He can be a little rash - we saw this more at times last season, having committed just one foul this term and nearly giving a penalty away against Bournemouth. He will learn as his reading of the game improves.

He is still very young, well built at just under 6ft 1in tall and has a turn of pace that is certainly quicker than Maguire's and most of the league's current defenders. That will help cover Evans and other defensive partners over the course of the season too.

Goals may come at the other end, no doubt. He even nearly scored from outside the box against the Cherries with an effort just wide of the top corner from the edge of the box. With his style of play and brave approach, he will not hesitate to have a pop - another key part of Maguire's game to replace.

Soyuncu has such potential to be a cult hero at Leicester that after the opening day draw against Wolves, his team-mates reportedly gave him a standing ovation in the dressing room after the game.

Caglar Soyuncu: Leicester defender in action against Chelsea
Caglar Soyuncu: Leicester defender has shown a confident ability on the ball

Rodgers' Leicester are aiming for the top six and they have started in impressive fashion under the former Celtic boss, who has not even been in charge for a year.

The first month of the season certainly does not draw concrete conclusions, but early indications are promising for their European hopes, life after Maguire (and with Soyuncu) and going forward under Rodgers.

So they have pocketed £80million and, in a player still adapting to the Premier League, it appears they have a classy operator in Soyuncu.

And Leicester's first game after the international break? A trip to face Maguire and Man United.

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