Signing off in Italy

Timothy Castagne: Leicester City’s Third Belgium International

Leicester City’s Belgian contingent was boosted yet further earlier today by the arrival of versatile full-back Timothy Castagne from Italian side Atalanta B.C.
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Joining fellow Belgium internationals Youri Tielemans and Dennis Praet at King Power Stadium, Castagne – a 24-year-old defender with seven caps to his name – has helped transform Atalanta into a swashbuckling outfit which challenges for the Serie A title in Italy.

A full-back who combines sturdy defensive abilities with a willingness to burst forwards on the counter attack, Castagne made 35 appearances for club and country last term.

Like new Foxes team-mate Wilfred Ndidi, Castagne’s professional career began at Jupiler Pro League side K.R.C. Genk, following his debut in Limburg with another 27 appearances for the club as Blauw-Wit narrowly missed out on UEFA Europa League qualification in 2014/15.

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Finding the net

Castagne began to develop a talent for scoring big goals for Genk and, on Thursday 16 February, 2017, he found the net again in a UEFA Europa League Round of 32 clash with Astra Giurgiu, eventually helping to seal their place in the next round.

Despite his tender age, Arlon-born Castagne was quickly transformed from talented youngster into first-team star, adding another 40 outings in his final year at Cristal Arena.

His high level of performances, typified by both scoring goals for his club and denying others at the opposite end of the pitch, led eventually to a switch to Atalanta in 2017.

Gian Piero Gasperini saw Castagne as a vital ingredient in his plans to build a vibrant, ambitious Atalanta outfit who would go on to regularly upset the established order in Italy.

In four seasons – three of which involving Castagne - I Nerazzurri banished memories of regular battles to avoid relegation and replaced them with aspirations to challenge in Europe.

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Challenging at the top

Atalanta finished third in Serie A in 2018/19 - booking a place in the UEFA Champions League - as Gian Piero Gasperini's side secured several memorable results, including a 3-0 success over Juventus on Wednesday 30 January, 2019 in which Castagne scored his side's opener at Atleti Azzurri d'Italia.

His quality on the flanks has been a real tool for Gasperini and Atalanta, leading to successive third-placed finishes in Serie A and culminating in a run to the Champions League Quarter-Finals earlier in 2020, beating Dinamo Zagreb, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Valencia along the way.

Castagne stands alongside the likes of Josip Iličić and Luis Muriel in being an embodiment of Atalanta’s rapid rise – earning him a maiden Belgium call-up in September 2018.

Since then, he's scored for his country twice – against Kazakhstan and San Marino – while also being a creative spark for Roberto Martínez's side, who sit top of the FIFA World Rankings.

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Scoring for the Red Devils

Castagne got off the mark in the international scoring stakes by finding the net a 2-0 win against Kazakhstan at King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels on Saturday 8 June, 2019. He would later add another to his tally during a 9-0 rout over San Marino.

Although nobody knew it at the time, a potential glimpse into the future came on 22 March, 2019 when Castagne laid it up for Tielemans to slot home Belgium’s first in a 3-1 win in Russia.

Able to play on either side of a back-four, or in a more advanced wing-back position, the talented full-back has now made seven international appearances and is integral to Martínez's plans.

Over the years, Castagne has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe and is set to play a part in Leicester City’s fifth campaign in continental football across 2020/21.

Already with six seasons of professional experience, at the age of 24, and a growing international prestige, the enterprising Belgium star adds further quality to one of the Premier League’s sturdiest defences and provides Brendan Rodgers with yet more talent in his squad.

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