Young French midfielder close to joining Ipswich Town

PAUL Jewell is closing in on his second signing of the summer – thanks to departing defender Ibrahima Sonko.

Young French-Guinean midfielder Cheick Kourouma is set to follow in the footsteps of fellow youngster Elliott Hewitt and sign for the Blues, subject to a medical.

Kourouma, 19, currently with Genoa Under-20s, impressed Jewell during a trial at the end of the season and is set to put pen to paper in the next week or two.

The deal was struck up thanks in part to Sonko who recommended a number of African players to the Ipswich manager before he was told he would not be offered a new deal.

Kourouma, described as a powerful box-to-box midfielder, was the first to visit Suffolk for a trial but not the last – with another of Sonko’s tip-offs expected to try and impress the Blues boss over the summer.

A source close to the defender said: “Sonks loved Ipswich and he was sad to leave. Before he was told the news, he wanted to offer Chiek to Paul Jewell as he thought he could be a good player for Ipswich.”

Kourouma was on the books of the Sochauex academy in France before moving to Italy, but he is being released by the cash-strapped Serie A club allowing him to join Ipswich for a nominal fee.

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While his inexperience might mean he will initially have to be content with a place on the fringes of Jewell’s first team, the Ipswich manager saw enough during the short trial to offer him a deal.

He continues Jewell’s pledge to sign “young and hungry” players following the acquisition of Hewitt – on the day of his 18th birthday – last month.

While most fans will welcome another promising youngster signing for Town, they will now be hoping Jewell adds some more steel to the spine of his team.

A first-choice goalkeeper, two centre-backs, at least one midfielder and another striker all remain priorities but the Town boss this week warned fans to remain patient.

The manager said: “Supporters always want to see new faces arriving and I’m as impatient as anyone, more so, in trying to bring players here.

“Signing players is a complicated business. Yes, in an ideal world I’d like to have all our players in place by the time we return to pre-season training in July but we don’t live in an ideal world.”

One man who seems unlikely to be coming is QPR keeper Paddy Kenny who is close to leaving the Premier League club.

The 34-year-old tweeted that he was “excited to get his future sorted” before quickly deleting the message from the social media website.

While we understand Jewell considered making the veteran stopper an offer, he has moved on to other targets.

Leeds United remains favourites to secure Kenny’s signature.