It was a strange year for Leicester City as the Foxes undoubtedly were the team on everyone’s lips in 2016. From surviving relegation a year and a half ago, they went on to lift the title in what has been termed as a massive underdog story. Things weren’t the same in the second half of the year, though, as they have been hit by reality.
Even though they managed to keep most of their stars, the departure of a certain N’Golo Kanté has hit them hard. The Frenchman was undoubtedly the buy of the season as his tenacious performances in the midfield made Leicester a solid defensive unit and his passing made them potent on the counter attack. His impact for Chelsea has been seen this season.
Leicester did try to replace Kanté in the summer as they signed Nampalys Mendy and Daniel Amartey. But, the duo haven’t had the same impact. While Mendy has been injured for most parts of the season, Amartey simply hasn’t been able to fill Kante’s void. He’s looked off pace and his passing has been a let-down.
Signing a player was vital and Leicester have gone on and done some early January business by signing Wilfred Ndidi from Genk. The midfielder cost the club £15m and once the work permit is cleared, he can start with the club considering he’s not going to appear in the AFCON.
The fee they’ve paid for Ndidi is certainly a steep one. He’s still only 20, so they’ve placed massive faith on his young shoulders. A look at his style of play does give you indications that he could be a good replacement for Kanté.
What separated Kanté from the rest was his busy nature on the pitch. He closed down the opponents and whenever he got the ball, he looked for a quick release to set his team on the counter. He also had a good tactical understanding of the game and that has been proven by his seamless transition at Chelsea who are playing an entirely different setup under Antonio Conte.
Ndidi has the same dynamism about him and his strengths are undoubtedly his ability to tackle and intercept passes in the deeper areas. He also has a pretty good recovery pace. Settling in the Premier League will take some time though and considering he’s so young, expecting him to hit the ground running would be too much of an ask.