An eagle has fast become a fox. It’s not surprising, in that they are both carnivores. So it’s still the same kind of ball game.
Two summers ago, Leicester City couldn’t prevent highly rated defensive midfielder, Ngolo Kante from joining Chelsea. The Frenchman left a void in the 2016 EPL title-winning team, the club went into a desperate search for a replacement and the rest is Ndidi.
Wilfred Ndidi arrived the West Midlands club in January 2017 for £15m on a five and half year contract. Just over a year and a half into his initial contract, the Nigeria international has been rewarded with a two-year contract extension, keeping him at the club until 2024.
In a time when Nigerian players at home are making desperate moves to neighbouring African countries, it’s great music to the hears to know players on the A list of the country aren’t just stacking papers but also becoming indispensable for their club sides abroad.
Generally speaking, it’s been a busy summer for Super Eagles players in Europe. Samuel Kalu, Moses Simon, William Troost Ekong, Leon Balogun, Ahmed Musa, Brian Idowu, Oghenekaro Etebo, amongst others like Ola Aina, Kenneth Omerou and Tyronne Ebuehi have all sealed assuring moves from one club to another and the latest is Wilfred Ndidi extending his stay at Leicester amid interests from bigger Premier League clubs in Arsenal and Manchester United.
Moving from Belgian club Genk, as a 20-year old player to the frenzied English Premier League wasn’t going to be a piece of cake for any player. Besides, when you know you’ll be filling a void where others have been tested and didn’t impress, it looks more like a hard nut to crack.
Ndidi, however, arrived Leicester unwaivered by the burdens of his role and the club’s desperado to get out of the danger zone. In his first five months at Leicester, he basically did his job, by steering the club to safety from the base of the midfield, thus establishing himself as a regular even in the face of managerial crisis.
The Nigerian went on to become fans favourite within a short period and went on to win the end of season award as the club’s best young player of the season – just in five months.
There was more to come for Ndidi in the following season, the 2017/18 campaign which marked his first full season with the foxes.
He took full advantage of the season and developed into one of the Premier League’s most exciting talents with his eye-catching performances. It’s not out of proportion to say that, he made Leicester City forget about the loss of Ngolo Kante. He wasn’t just a replacement, he became a more perfect fit after Daniel Armatey and Namplays Mendy had failed to adapt.
Ndidi combines well the combative nature of a holding midfielder and the technicality of an offensive one. On the ground, he wins the ball with superb tackles, spreads it across the field with excellent passes and his height also enables him to win aerial duels.
With these qualities, it was a no-brainer that he emerged top of the Premier League tackling statistics at the end of the season.
Besides, he was Leicester’s second-best passer with 1281 passes behind Harry Maguire with 1364. Being a real deal for the club, he offered so much in terms of defence and attack. In 52 appearances, the Nigerian has scored twice and contributed to other goals on four occasions.
In his 18 months as a fox, Ndidi has been more than a problem solver. His prowess speaks more for him as a key member of the club.
He isn’t just a mainstay at Leicester, he has also become a Premier League household name and the new contract will certainly be the springboard of greater things to come for him.