"I told him to be patient... Make me think, 'wow'. That's what happened... Trai has made that position his own... Trai has grown into an international footballer"- Tony Mowbray, former Sunderland coach
Those words summarise the promise of Leicester's latest transfer link. A player who went from relative obscurity to a first teamer making the fullback position his domain in a challenging and competitive team. Hume is a 'wow' and that is probably what draws the Foxes towards him.
Trai Hume is a defender that has a passion and flare when he performs. The international offers a unique package for Leicester, so let us briefly explore the rumour and then delve into what three things you need to know about this lesser-known star.
Leicester City interested in up-and-coming star
Reports from TeamTalk refer to a small number of high-profile clubs looking at snatching the Northern Ireland international from a struggling Sunderland side. Burnley, Leeds United, and of course the King Power club are identified as having concrete interest, although no moves have been made as of yet.
A rival, an EPL hopeful, and a side in the midst of their own little revolution. Three exciting projects for any youthful player to join into. There exists no doubt as to why a player could choose either of them and be happy. However, Maresca will hope the revolutionary growth and stylistic landslide which has occurred in the King Power will sway more up-and-coming talents to make the switch, letting the Italian oust the old and beckon the new.
The chronology of that renewal remains up for debate. Remember, the East Mids team continue to have too many goalkeepers, and players in the ranks who are getting little game time. January could be a great time to offload, loan out, and continue the consistent refreshing which is required with the gruelling style of football imposed by our head coach. Yet, perhaps few players want possible sideways movements, longing for the guarantee of Premier League football come the start of the next campaign. This will be the battle Maresca will have to fight: convince players that the project is worth it.
Supporter's 'what to know'
The Foxes are a team looking to let go of deadwood, impose a particular style of football, and instill a passion to play as priorities. As a result, Trai Hume would have to fit a particular position and style to be relevant, hold a certain value to offer both a decent bargain in the now, as well as the promise of growth later, and will have to be able to take one player's space in Leicester City.
Hume is a versatile defender. From right-back to centre-back, and has even been deployed in a midfield position from time to time. Having appeared 19 times thus far in the 23/24 season, the Northern Irishman has played in all three. The versatility to offer defensive-minded yet progressive acumen from myriad positions is a tempting reason for the Foxes to consider the player.
Having only recently signed a new deal to remain with Sunderland until 2027, there is little doubt to me that the player would not come cheap. With the competition we have for Hume's signature, alongside no requirement to sell, the only helpful factor would be the possibility of high profits for Sunderland. Should Sunderland not budge, around £10m could be expected.
3. Place in the team
A fullback that can perform midfield and centre-back duties when required to? That offers a complete package for a defender perfectly suited to 'MarescaBall'? That is a ready-made Ricardo Pereira replacement waiting for the taking.
Stylistically, the fullback will often be the focal point of progression, be that through long-running carries down the right-flank or intelligent and neat passing through midfield. He bombs forward and supports the final third efforts. We can see this with his one goal and one assist in this campaign. Alongside this, Hume's defensive statistics are extremely impressive.
The breakout-star is already above the 90th percentile of players in his class for progressive passes completed, tackles attempted, and aerial duels won. An aerial threat, a passionate tackler reminiscent of Leicester City's Hamza Choudhury, and a forward-looking talent in the same vein as 'Ricky P'.
At this time, when the Portuguese fullback turned defensive midfielder is out of the side, only half-baked solutions can be offered up. Hume is a stylistic match, has plenty of room to grow, and shows all the passion needed. Leicester should make Trai Hume their No.1 priority in what should hopefully be an exciting winter window.