Leicester City midfielder, Wilfred Onyinyen Ndidi has been rated on the same scale with The Foxes’ former battler, N’Golo Kante, who played a key role in helping the modest club to a shock conquest of the English Premier League.
Although Ndidi has not been ab le to lead Leicester back to the title, after arriving in 2017 from Racing Genk of Belgium, as Kante’s replacement, when the Frenchman moved to Chelsea, the Super Eagles’ star has now been rated on the same level, but with an extra touch in terms of going for goals, which is in defiance of his position as a deep-playing holding midfielder.
After hitting his second goal of the current season in last weekend’s 5-0 spanking of Newcastle United, adding to a header he notched home earlier against Chelsea, after giving away a goal with an error, Ndidi has now been cited as the oil that keeps Leicester looking good.
Such is the verdict by British tabloid, The Telegraph, which tagged Ndidi ‘the glue that keeps this brilliant Leicester side together,’ and reeled out several superlatives that make the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations bronze medalist one of the brightest sparks in the EPL so far this season.
The report stated in part: “Much like N’Golo Kante, Wilfred Ndidi is the ball-winner in a hugely impressive Leicester side.
“After making a colossal nine tackles and five interceptions in Sunday’s win, Ndidi now leads the Premier League in both columns for the season, with 33 tackles and 23 interceptions. Ndidi’s goal capped off Leicester’s latest win, but it was not a moment that reflected his performance, style of play or strengths.
“It was the 92nd minute and it was the first and only time Ndidi had touched the ball in the Newcastle box, as the below touchmap shows. It was also only the third time he had ventured into the final third. Kante topped both individual charts when Leicester won the title. That is largely where the similarities end, though.
“While Kante – who played in a midfield two – would run himself into the ground, winning the ball all over the pitch and relieving pressure on the defence by carrying the ball up the field, Ndidi retains his position in front of the back four and behind two other central midfielders, distributing play quickly and efficiently to get attacking moves started once he has won the ball.
“He had 84 touches on Sunday and completed 91.8 per cent of his passes. As the below graphic shows, the two most-advanced and central positions in which Ndidi attempted passes resulted in losses of possession (red lines = unsuccessful passes; green = successful passes).
“That is not where he is at his best. He is the kind of selfless player that every great team needs. Leicester’s flying full-backs have rightly received a great deal of praise for their tireless, attacking running, but they are helped hugely by Ndidi’s ball-winning and lateral distribution to get play out wide as quickly as possible.
“It is also no coincidence that Harry Maguire’s replacement Caglar Soyuncu has settled into the side so quickly. When you have a player like Ndidi so committed to protecting the defence, the centre-backs immediately have a better chance of succeeding. Just look at how exposed Maguire and Victor Lindelof have been at United with no natural holding midfielder in front of them.
“Leicester suffocate opponents when they try to play out from the back and it is usually Ndidi that sweeps up possession in central midfield. They were helped by Isaac Hayden’s ludicrous challenge that earned him a red card on Sunday, but even when it was 11 vs 11 Newcastle just could not find a way out at the back.
“This is already Ndidi’s fourth season in England, so despite being just 22 years old he is already somehow an experienced member of this Leicester side. He is unflustered, unassuming and doesn’t go in search of the limelight. Otherwise, he will stick to his job and everyone around him will feel the benefits.”