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Wilfred Ndidi: Africa’s new midfield maestro

“I’ve always had one in my teams – that sort of central pivot that orchestrates the game.

“I had Steven (Gerrard) do it for me at Liverpool and Leon Britton did it for me at Swansea, different types.”

This was Brendan Rodgers’ comments on Wilfred Ndidi after the Nigerian midfielder put up one of the best midfield displays in the Premier League so far this season as Leicester’s wonderfully picked up a 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday.

A comparison with one of the Premier League’s greatest midfielder is a nice gesture but Ndidi isn’t given the attention he deserves. He’s one of the best midfield generals in England who can be a destroyer, can control play and isn’t shy of going for the goal himself. Leicester’s win over Bournemouth is a typical example of how valuable Ndidi is to Leicester’s team and how ridiculously good he can be on his day.

The 22-year old had a whopping 11 tackles against the Cherries, 7 more than all of his teammate did in the game with the team’s second-best making just two. It was like he was running the defensive midfield show alone. Not just that, Ndidi also coupled that with 14 ball recoveries, 5 clearances, 5 interceptions, 17 duels won and 87% pass accuracy. This man is definitely the complete defensive midfielder.

The Nigeria international had been deployed alongside Nampalys Mendy in the double-pivot system in many games this season but new manager Brendan Rodgers have decided to play Ndidi as the lone holding midfielder, a tactic which seem to be thriving as not just Ndidi is enjoying himself in midfield, but the team now have more confidence going forward and making positional plays as Ndidi’s prowess has allowed Youri Tielemans more freedom going forward and creating from midfield. This is one of the many reasons why Leicester have won four of their last five games.

Some of Ndidi’s stats is insane which clearly shows that he’s up there with the best defensive midfielders in the game. The player has made a total of 120 tackles, the most by any player in Europe’s top five leagues. He’s also won possession 162 times in midfield, made 65 interceptions and 69 clearances. He is a gem in Leicester City’s defensive tactics but shouldn’t be written off when creating as he’s made 19 key passes in the Premier League whilst making 28 successful dribbles.

No doubt, Ndidi is definitely one of the best defensive midfielders in England but it is quite fascinating how he doesn’t get the praises he deserves. Maybe because he’s yet to play for a top club which, by his recent performances, is very likely. The most interesting part of it all is that he’s only 22 and will only get better.

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