Since his move to Leicester City, his profile has continued to rise both for club and country. Today, Wilfred Ndidi is one of the most important players in the Foxes’ quest for a top-four place in the Premier League. Little wonder highly respected CIES Football Observatory recently named him as the 13th best player of the 2021 and third best in England
Though he is one of the most respected voices in Leicester City’s dressing room, ditto the national team, yet Wilfred Ndidi is believed to be one of the most underated players in world football.
Former Manchester City star, Trevor Sinclair said he believes Ndidi is among the best in Europe, adding that the Leicester City dressing room appreciates the midfielder’s value despite not being a headline maker.
Ndidi produced another terrific display for The Foxes penultimate weekend as they secured a place in the FA Cup semi-final courtesy of a fine victory over Manchester United at the weekend.
Ndidi’s reputation continues to grow following a string of fine performances and Sinclair, who was talking to Talksport, feels that while the Nigeria star sneaks under the radar, his impact cannot be questioned.
“I actually looked at Ndidi and thought there are not many better than him in the Premier League and probably in Europe,” he remarked.
“Really good player very probably underrated, undervalued. But I wouldn’t have thought he’s undervalued by Brendan and his team-mates because I’m sure they appreciate everything that he brings to that team. He makes them tick.”
Rodgers recently lavished praise on Ndidi and his contribution to ‘The Foxes’ since arriving at the club in 2017.
Amid concerns the player is now starting to drift onto the transfer radar of other clubs, ‘The Foxes’ boss said: “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.
“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.”
On Monday, the Super Eagles and Leicester City midfielder was been ranked as the 13th best player in the world for the first quarter of 2021 by the highly respected CIES Football Observatory with an index of 85.5 having played 852 minutes in the first quarter of 2021.
The top star in the world according to CIES is Lionel Messi of Barcelona, whose index is 92.5 after he clocked 998 minutes of action.
The latest rating therefore rates the Nigerian as the third-best player in the Premier League ahead of the likes of Harry Kane, Luke Shaw and Thiago Alcantara.
Some of the other top-ranked stars are Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, 89.5 index/1106 minutes), Jorginho (Chelsea, 89.5/799 minutes), Ruben Diaz (Manchester City, 89.4/1335 minutes and Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus, 89.3/1191 minutes).
Ndidi has become one of the first names on the team sheet at the King Power Stadium, with Brendan Rodgers recently describing the Nigerian midfielder as irresplaceable.
“He’s one of the top players in world football. His quality in his football is improving all the time,” said the Northern Irish manager. Ndidi led the league in tackles in 2018/19 with 143 and recorded another 128 last season, second to only Aaron Wan-Bissaka. These may not be headline-grabbing statistics compared to goals and assists, but the team have thrived with the defensive midfielder in the engine room.
Amid their lofty standing in the table, Leicester look bound for a return to the Champions League in 2021. Although Manchester City look unstoppable in the title race, having fallen into fifth at the very end of last season, the club will certainly feel they have a point to prove.
Ndidi joined Leicester from Genk in 2017 and has become an essential part of the club’s success. He now has over 130 Premier League appearances to his name and has regularly been linked with Europe’s top clubs including Manchester United and Juventus. For now, though, the defensive midfielder seems at home in the East Midlands and insists there is still plenty for his side to learn, even amid their relative successes.
While he wasn’t part of the team that won the Premier League at odds of 5000/1, the Foxes have continued to defy expectations while having to sell their top players. N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Ben Chilwell have all been sold for huge fees in recent seasons, but the good results have continued for the team.
Injury has impacted the 24-year-old’s playing time in the current campaign, but he has looked back to his best in recent appearances. According to Football Critic, Ndidi averages 9.8 recoveries per 90 minutes played in the English top-flight this season, that’s the most of any outfield player in the division. With 2.5 interceptions per game too, his diligence has allowed the more attack-minded players in the team to thrive.
Leicester have recorded wins over Manchester City (5-2), Chelsea 2-0, and Liverpool (3-1) in the league season so far and boast the joint-best away record in the competition, tied with the runaway leaders on 30 points from 12 games on the road. The club certainly appear to be one of the main benefactors of a year without fans attending games in England. All this while defying an injury crisis which has seen players including Ndidi ruled out for large periods of the year.
The Foxes will need to maintain that quality of performance if they’re to ensure Champions League football is played at the King Power Stadium again next term. The Europa League remains another route back to Europe’s top table, but for now, the league would seem to offer the most straightforward route. If key players such as Ndidi can remain fit, the signs look good for Rodgers leading his team to another successful season.