Thursday, December 8

Wilfred Ndidi: Will He Remain Big Fish in Small Pond?

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Old Trafford faithful are of a strong opinion that for Manchester United to challenge for the Premier League title and to also be a force to be reckoned with in Europe, the Devils need a ball winner in the middle of the pack and their focus is on no other player than Super Eagles and Leicester City enforcer- Wilfred Ndidi.

Interestingly, Real Madrid are also looking at the direction of the Nigerian to compliment the effort of their sole Brazilian holding midfielder, Casemiro. The big question however remains whether Ndidi would want to leave a place where he is seen as a cult hero for a big European club where he would need to establish himself

Among the King Power Stadium faithful, Wilfred Ndidi is a cult hero, and to Leicester City Manager, Brendan Rodgers, the midfield enforcer is indispensable.
Except for injury, the Nigerian is a sure starter and statistics have proven that he is the Foxes most important player in the last two years.

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To some, it is still a miracle that Leicester City are able to hold on to their jewel in spite of inquiries from big European clubs of the former Nathaniel Boys player.
For several transfer windows, Ndidi has been linked with a move to Old Trafford to take command of holding the midfield, an area the Red Devils have been found wanting but somehow Leicester City has hold on the midfielder. However, with Spanish power house, Real Madrid entering into the fray, the egg heads of King Power Stadium would need to do something extra than what they’ve been doing to ward off these predators.

The Spanish giants have no viable backup to Brazilian midfielder Carlos Henrique Casimiro, commonly called Casemiro and are keen to add one of Nigeria’s most highly-rated stars to their squad.
Madrid will look to sign the Super Eagles’ combative midfielder in the January transfer window, according to a report by Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo.

The Spanish side have one of the world’s finest defensive midfielders in Brazil’s Casemiro, but they have no like-for-like alternative to the 29-year-old.

French youngster, Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde can do a decent job as holding midfielders, but they have primarily been utilised in box-to-box roles.
The Nigerian international, Ndidi, valued at €60 million by Leicester City, Real Madrid have identified a perfect replacement for Casemiro and could take him to the Santiago Bernabeu in the winter transfer window.

The former Spanish champions could, however face stiff opposition from Manchester United, who are reportedly leading the race for the former Genk midfielder.
It is hard for some of Europe’s biggest clubs to overlook Ndidi, who has developed into one of the best midfielders in the Premier League since he moved to Leicester City in January 2017.

Manchester United may boast that they have two of some of the best attacking and central midfielders in the Premier League, but they can hardly boast of one of the best holding midfielders in the league.

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Although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stuck to Fred for that role, it is still a department that has led to loss of games for Manchester United. This is where Ndidi comes in. The Super Eagles forward have shown that he is one of the best holding midfielders in England and Europe.

Little wonder many fans of United truly relish the possibility of the Leicester man being in their team.
Ndidi has proven to be one of the best tacklers in Europe. In the Community Shield game against Manchester City, Ndidi rose to the occasion for Leicester City and was the boss in midfield. When compared to Fred, Ndidi has a better record.

Although Fred does well for Brazil, he has not replicated that form for Manchester United.
With Ndidi at Manchester United, Pogba and Bruno Fernandes will have less defensive duties and will concentrate more on attack and that is all they ever wanted. Manchester United’s midfield is a major problem for Ole and once that is solved, the problems in defense may be solved easily.

Ndidi has increased his passing accuracy and he hardly makes mistakes when protecting his back three or back four and he gives his central midfielders the confidence to surge forward.

He has 591 tackles in 152 premier league games, 325 interceptions and 355 clearances. He has 1,291 ball recoveries and has won 1,277 duels, one of the best records in the Premier League.
The 24-year-old has made 187 appearances for Leicester, chipping in with nine goals and 11 assists in four years.

Ndidi’s contract with the King Power Stadium outfit does not expire until 2024.
How much value Ndidi adds to Leicester City has never been lost by Brenden Rodgers and the Irish has never stopped showering encomiums on the Nigerian describing him as irreplaceable.
“It’s impossible to find what we have, we’ve got good players, but specifically the job Ndidi does in breaking up play and just his overall defending and in the box, he’s irreplaceable for us,” Rodgers had said.

The 24-year-old has been consistent for the King Power Stadium outfit since teaming up with the side from Belgian club Genk in 2017.
The Nigerian international has featured in more than 160 games across all competitions, delivering solid defensive performances.

Rodgers is hoping the Super Eagles star will continue with his side for a long time, although he is aware there could be bigger clubs jostling for his signature in the summer.

“He’s one of the top players in world football. His quality in his football is improving all the time. He is irreplaceable for us. He’s fantastic for a young player,” Rodgers said .
“What is pleasing as a coach, is that he wants to learn. He will improve and get better. I’m so happy he plays in my team.”

What will definitely determine Ndidi’s stay at the King Power Stadium beyond next season is whether the midfielder is indeed ready for new challenge and how well the Foxes can ward off predators.

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