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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Why Leicester’s bid to sign Stefano Sensi from Inter collapsed

Leicester City’s attempt to sign Inter Milan midfielder Stefano Sensi fell away in the final hours of the transfer window because the two clubs couldn’t agree on the structure of the deal.

The 28-year-old had flown to London yesterday and underwent his medical before signing personal terms and beginning to do his media preparation for his unveiling when the transfer stalled over clauses in the club-to-club contract.

Because of concerns over EFL profit and sustainability (PSR) rules, Leicester had initially needed to sell a player before they could bring Sensi to King Power Stadium. But no acceptable transfer offer for key asset Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall emerged after Leicester rejected a £20million ($25.4m) offer from Brighton & Hove Albion last Friday.

However, Leicester decided to press on with the transfer anyway in support of their manager Enzo Maresca, who had pushed for the signing of the nine-cap Italy international after losing Cesare Casadei (a former Inter player), who was recalled by parent club Chelsea earlier in the window, and Wilfred Ndidi to injury.

Leicester wanted to structure the deal correctly to avoid being in breach of PSR rules and wanted an initial loan with payment to make the deal permanent if and when promotion to the Premier League was confirmed, coming after the end of the financial year in June.


Sensi has nine caps and three goals for Italy (Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

The complication of Sensi’s transfer came down to him being out of contract at the end of this season, with the question raised about how exactly you pay a fee for a free agent. So alternatives were discussed so that a deal could be reached. These included a permanent transfer — which Leicester were reluctant to do because of the financial hit — and even a straight loan, with Inter extending Sensi’s contract to ensure they got a fee in the future.

Inter were prepared to extend his contract by a year to get the ball rolling and talks progressed until 8pm when Leicester began to apply more pressure for an agreement to be finalised to avoid the same issues they experienced on August 31, 2017. Back then, their attempts to bring Adrien Silva in from Sporting Lisbon went 14 seconds past the deadline and they were unable to register the Portugal international until the following January.

Leicester wanted these clauses to be sorted by 9pm on Thursday — although the official deadline for transfers in England was 11pm — so they would have time to pore over the details.

In the end, they decided to try to make the transfer happen — even if it went past 9pm. Inter sent over their term sheet, but due to mandatory clauses under EFL rules, Leicester’s document was longer. This took the Serie A club by surprise and led to their lawyers taking longer to assess the terms.

With time ticking, Inter returned the document with their amendments, but it was now getting close to the deadline and Leicester felt there wasn’t enough time left to fully evaluate the changes. So frustratingly for both clubs and Sensi, who flew back to Italy today, it was decided it was best to abandon the deal with the clock ticking down.


Adrien Silva saw 14 seconds cost him half a season at Leicester (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Leicester have experienced deadline-day deal collapses before. Besides that infamous Silva saga, an attempt to sign winger Jeremie Boga from Atalanta last season fell through and, even more dramatically, Leeds United decided at the last minute to cancel Jack Harrison’s move to Leicester. Harrison even had his announcement pictures taken in Leicester kit when news broke of Leeds’ decision.

Maresca refused to discuss what had happened with Sensi at his press conference on Friday. But his squad is now two players lighter after Casadei’s departure and Daniel Iversen’s move to Stoke City, who Leicester face on Saturday.

“The window is now closed, so I am not talking and judging anything,” he said. “It is not the moment and my focus is only on Stoke tomorrow. Later, we will discuss this but now is not the moment.

“I love Sensi but he is not here and is an Inter player, but we focus on Stoke tomorrow. I am in love with the players who are here. We have lost Wilf and Cesare, but we will find a solution until the end.”

Still, Leicester are expected to resume their interest in Sensi at the end of the summer when his Inter contract expires.

(Top photo: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)



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