Who is Michael Golding? Meet the England youth midfielder Leicester have signed from Chelsea


New Leicester City manager Steve Cooper needs reinforcements across the pitch but the one department where he desperately needs more talent is in attacking midfield.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s £30million ($38m) move to Chelsea, the departures as free agents of Wilfred Ndidi and Dennis Praet, and the return of Yunus Akgun to Galatasaray after his loan spell have left Cooper with very few options if he wants to play with two high No 8s.

Leicester’s second signing of the Cooper era after the club recruited forward Bobby De Cordova-Reid on a free transfer following his Fulham departure is Chelsea’s Michael Golding, an 18-year-old attacking midfielder who, while in the Dewsbury-Hall mould, should be viewed not as his direct replacement but as one for the future.

Golding joins, in a separate deal to Dewsbury-Hall’s transfer in the other direction, for an initial fee of £3million potentially rising to £5m, having captained England at under-16, under-17 and under-18 levels, and having played in both the Under-17s European Championship and Under-17s World Cup in 2023.

He was a key member of the under-18 and under-21 sides at Chelsea as an industrious attacking midfielder, scoring eight goals and providing six assists last season. Such performances led to a senior debut, as a late substitute, in the FA Cup third-round win over Preston North End of the Championship at Stamford Bridge this past January.

Golding, who started his career across London at AFC Wimbledon’s academy before joining Chelsea after his under-12s season, only got nine minutes (including stoppage time) that day after coming on for Enzo Fernandez but showed his temperament and confidence, finding space and demanding the ball.

In this example, even though he initially doesn’t receive a pass when Malo Gusto is in possession, Golding continues to seek an open area to be an option.

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He plays a skilful flicked one-two with Moises Caicedo before surging into the box and almost getting on the end of the resulting rebound after Noni Madueke has an effort on goal.

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He had also shown previously, in appearances in the EFL Trophy for Chelsea Under-21s, what he is capable of.

In a 2-2 away draw against Northampton Town of League One last September, he found pockets in front of the home side’s defence before playing in Ronnie Stutter to score the opening goal.

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He went on to score the second himself, squeezing an effort home after Billy Gee’s knockdown.

There isn’t a huge volume of footage of Golding so early in his career but there have been other examples of why Leicester were keen to bring in the west London-born midfielder.

While playing for England United-17s against their Faroe Islands counterparts in the Nordic Tournament in 2022, he again showed his strength and ability to deliver an accurate, defence-splitting pass after holding off a defender…

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…turning to pick out the run of Aston Villa’s Jamaldeen Jimoh, who slots home the second goal in a 3-0 win.

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He displayed the same knack for breaking the lines with accurate forward passing in last November’s Under-17 World Cup in Indonesia, with Golding picking out Arsenal’s Ethan Nwaneri in a 2-1 group-stage defeat against Brazil.

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When England beat Iran 2-1 in the preceding match, Golding’s strength and quality inside the opposition penalty box (an area of the game where Dewsbury-Hall made huge progress last season under Enzo Maresca) could be seen, receiving the ball with his back to goal, rolling a defender and getting the shot away.

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Leicester should be patient and not throw Golding into the fray too quickly amid the pressure of an expected Premier League survival battle in the coming season.

They have other young players coming through the ranks who will also be pushing for opportunities, including Sammy Braybrooke, Will Alves and Ben Nelson, who featured nine times last season under Maresca. Braybrooke and Alves have returned from long-term injuries but all three have recently been on England duty with the under-20s, having come through the international youth ranks as Golding has.

Had it not been for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries, which kept them out for a year, Braybrooke and Alves would be further along in their developments, ideally having spent a loan spell away from the club playing senior football at lower levels, as Nelson did in the 2022-23 season with League Two (fourth division) sides Rochdale and Doncaster Rovers.

Dewsbury-Hall’s loans at Blackpool, in third-tier League One, and Luton Town, then of the second-tier Championship, were the main reason he made such an impact once he broke into the Leicester senior side. Golding has yet to experience a loan spell but is ready to step up and experience a different environment, as well as the extra pressures of first-team football.

Leicester have only just started their transfer business this summer.

With concerns over profitability and sustainability rules (PSR), they have held back on any incomings as they needed to reduce costs in an attempt to avoid a second charge for a PSR breach for the period covering the 2023-24 season. However, after the financial belt-tightening of the past year, which has seen 10 senior players leave as free agents and four assets sold (Dewsbury-Hall, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Timothy Castagne) since their initial relegation from the Premier League, the shackles may be a bit looser.

There will not be a huge budget and the deal to make Abdul Fatawu’s 2023-24 loan from Sporting Lisbon permanent will take up a chunk of the funds available, but Cooper will need further backing to get Leicester in strong enough shape to compete in the Premier League, with midfield now the priority.

Time will tell what Leicester have planned for Golding but they believe they have signed a player who, in time, will be able to make an impact on their first team like Dewsbury-Hall did.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Leicester Transfer DealSheet: Ndidi in limbo; Fatawu latest; Maresca’s plans on hold

(Top photo: Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images)



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