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‘Ndidi is Leicester’s Didier Deschamps’


Wilfred Ndidi is the key cog in a thriving Leicester team, as his side are reaping their rewards from his tireless work.

One of Eric Cantona’s most memorable quotes came when he described his fellow Frenchman, Didier Deschamps as ‘the water carrier’.While the former Manchester United man meant that in a derisive way, every team needs one of those – a player willing to do the dirty work in midfield and put out fires.

Deschamps was one of the very best at it – a defensive midfielder, who excelled at winning the ball. He had perfect positional awareness and a tireless work rate to boot. Wilfred Ndidi is doing the same for Leicester now. No one has committed more tackles in the Premier League than the 22-year-old, and no one has made more interceptions.

There are so many things to admire about Leicester under Brendan Rodgers, and Ndidi is one of them.I was at the King Power Stadium to watch them beat Arsenal on Saturday evening and spoke to James Maddison afterwards. He hailed his Nigerian team-mate and rightly so.

When Leicester lost N’Golo Kante to Chelsea for £32 million, in the summer after their 5,000-1 title triumph, we figured the Foxes would never get over it. How do you replace someone like that in your midfield?
Yet they got on with it and found Ndidi, a £17 million buy from Genk. He makes what he does look simple, and enjoys the responsibility, too.

As well as his defensive expertise, Ndidi has other qualities, too. At 6ft, he is good in the air. He gets into the box, and I’m sure the King Power’s crossbar is still shaking from his ferocious shot on Saturday.He has the right attitude, too.

Remember when he was at fault for conceding a goal against Chelsea in August, when he allowed himself to be robbed of possession by Mason Mount? He responded by scoring a superb headed equaliser at the same end in the second half at Stamford Bridge, earning his side a point.

What amazing recruitment they have at Leicester. They lose Kante but find Ndidi. They lose Harry Maguire to Manchester United but bring through Caglar Soyuncu. Rodgers has struck such a good balance with this team and you would not bet against them finishing inside the top four now.

As for Arsenal, they are in a real mess. Unai Emery is getting the blame, but that is a club devoid of characters in their squad right now.Where is the leadership? If Granit Xhaka really was captain material, he would have been at the King Power on Saturday. He would have been there fighting to win over the fans who gave him stick. 

Instead he was left at home, and Emery is having to pick up the pieces. The last time Arsenal won away from home against a Big Six club? January 2015, at Manchester City. The last time they won away at Leicester? September 2015. They have big problems, and now trail Leicester by nine points.
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