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“I want to win trophies and be the best defender in the world”

Wesley Fofana has a lot on his plate. A new season is on the horizon for Leicester City, his name is at the center of speculation about Chelsea’s interest and there’s the nitty gritty of a Winter World Cup on the horizon.

It’s some inbox. But in many ways, Fofana has spent his entire life preparing for these kinds of moments. The French defender is widely hailed as a generational talent, long coveted by Europe’s top clubs since he started impressing at Saint Etienne’s academy as a teenager, so nothing is likely to faze him.

Yet he is human. The 21-year-old is still awaiting his first senior cap for France and Didier Deschamps has few options at his position. Fofana even laughs as we list some of the names in contention for the Qatar squad as we sit down for a chat at Leicester’s sparkling new training center – Jules Kounde, Dayot Upamecano, Presnel Kimpembe, Ibrahima Konate, Rafael Varane, William Saliba, Kurt Zouma. It’s, as Fofana admits, a “crazy” embarrassment of wealth.

Still, the chance to break into the set-up on the biggest stage the game has to offer understandably bothers him.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about the World Cup because that’s a big goal for me,” he says. “I’m French and of course I want to represent my national team. I realize that. The coach has his own ideas and team, but I really want to be there. Every player has to work hard – if he’s a little lazy for his club, he’ll be left out.”

The question naturally arises as to which club Fofana will be representing by the time Qatar rolls around. Chelsea have made little secret of his admiration for him and their new owners are determined to boost their transfer business in the remaining transfer windows. Such an interest is difficult to resist; Likewise, it wouldn’t be surprising if Fofana stayed in the East Midlands for another year and honed his talents.

In any case, there is no indication that he is dissatisfied at the club – he has recently stopped taking English lessons and feels at home with his teammates. He even traveled to away games to support them when he was injured last season. And Leicester are more than happy with him: his manager Brendan Rodgers has said he could be one of the best defenders in the world. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he ended up becoming the most expensive defender in the world; just maybe not this summer.

I remind him of Rodgers’ comments and ask him how he feels when he is described like that. “As he [Rodgers] said that of course it adds extra pressure, but it has to be the goal for every player,” he stresses. “I don’t just want to win trophies, I want to try to be the best defender at my position in the world.”

Fofana aims high with his role models. He’s a fan of Virgil van Dijk and Kalidou Koulibaly, but as a kid he “watched a lot of Maldini videos. He always had time [mimics smoking a cigar]. Sergio Ramos too, I liked his character and bite and how he wanted to hurt the opponent.”

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