Wilfred Ndidi: An underrated gem
Wilfred Ndidi will definitely not forget his birthday this year. Already on a yellow card, Martin Atkinson had no other choice to but to show him another one for an outrageously comical dive against Crystal Palace. Notably, Dwight Gayle and him, are the only players to be sent off in the Premier League on their birthday.
Well, better than not receiving even a birthday cake!
Jokes aside (Sorry Yaya), he did have one of those days on Saturday. However, this should not deter the fact that he has made a considerable impact for Leicester City this season. While everyone would certainly talk about players like N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba, Wilfred Ndidi deserves more plaudits than he normally receives.
Therefore, this article will discuss his profile, using various insights from figures which underline his importance to Leicester.
Name: Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi
Senior Career: Genk (2015-2017), Leicester City (2017-present)
Wilfred Ndidi plays as one of the two central midfielders in a typical 4-2-3-1 setup by his boss Claude Puel. However, he has played in various positions throughout his career.
After spending his youth years playing for Nath Boys Academy in Lagos as either a forward or a central defender, he came on as a substitute in his senior debut for Genk, playing at full-back. Later on, he was finally deployed as a central midfielder after displaying a good passing range.
Club: Leicester City
Wilfred Ndidi has made the highest number of tackles this season, 11 more than Idrissa Gueye who is at 66. He has made more than twice the amount of tackles made by any other Leicester player.
Harry Maguire and Danny Simpson have made 31 each. He has also touched the ball more than any other player for his side. Only Christian Fuchs has intercepted the ball more than Ndidi.
Such stats clearly prove that Ndidi is undeniably important for Leicester. This fact has only been backed up even by his performances this season, particularly against the likes of Everton and Southampton.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Both N'Golo Kante and Wilfred Ndidi are similar players in terms of their defensive work rate and stature, but Ndidi has the edge in terms of height. Compared to Kante, he stands considerably taller at 6'2".
Besides his agility and exceptional work rate, he moves the ball smoothly as well, and is actually more attacking than Kante. His delightful range of passing allows him to easily switch the play and transition from defense to attack quickly.
As a player who has changed positions throughout his career, he is versatile. But more importantly, he can break the opposition attack down efficiently with his interceptions and tackles, making him a key asset for Claude Puel's side, given they like to counter-attack.
In truth, he does not possess many weaknesses. However, as a player who likes to attack, he should be contributing to the attack a bit more. But, to be fair, Leicester needs him defensively often which might limit his attacking runs.
Another improvement can be made on his long passing. He may have a good range, but the accuracy of his long passes is a worry at nearly 40%, since he is one of their focal points for a possible counter-attack. That being said, he is only 21 and has a long way to go in his career.
Wilfred Ndidi is underrated and still relatively unknown. At a young age, he has been of considerable importance to Leicester and with his peak years still ahead of him, he can potentially be amongst the great players in the league.
As he is suspended for the Carabao Cup quarter-final against the nearly invincible league leaders in Manchester City, Leicester City will surely miss his presence as a player in that game.
Statistics Credit: WhoScored.com & the official Premier League site.