According to recent reports, PSG are keen to bolster their midfield options this summer and Leicester’s Wilfried Ndidi tops a three-man shortlist tasked with doing precisely that. Tiemoue Bakayoko and Thomas Partey are also linked.
Wilfried Ndidi was quietly enjoying an excellent season with Leicester before the coronavirus suspended play indefinitely in mid-March.
He made 29 appearances across all competitions, including 23 in the Premier League with two goals and an assist to his name. However, what sets him apart from other players is the Nigeria international’s defensive abilities.
He averaged four tackles, 2.7 interceptions and two clearances per game in England’s top-flight this term, while retaining a respectable pass success rate of 84.2%.
It’s a 4% improvement from the previous year (79.9%), and a facet of his game that was easily criticised when playing against top opposition, who would force him into distributing possession more often to keep the Foxes’ other creative players off-the-ball:
His name is firmly in the discussion for Team of the Season – consistently doing the dirty work to allow players like Youri Tielemans and James Maddison to roam forward.
How can PSG do a deal? What about their other options?
Ndidi, like many of his club teammates, has attracted interest across Europe. Brendan Rodgers’ men sat third on 53 points after 29 games and were firmly in the race for Champions League qualification, despite a February form dip.
ESPN’s Julien Laurens said his value is around £45-50m, but considering his contract situation – his deal expires in 2024 – it’s hard to imagine Leicester not increasing their asking price significantly even post-pandemic, if he makes clear his intentions to leave.
“Despite recently bringing in two central midfielders, the Parisians still feel they need a strong and aggressive holding midfielder. Ndidi ticks all the boxes and Leonardo could soon accelerate on their interest.” – Laurens on PSG’s interest
PSG are not the only side interested, either. Arsenal and Manchester United are among Leicester’s league rivals intrigued by his progress, but they’d probably be more receptive to selling him abroad later in future should he want to leave. That’s not the case yet.
Last week, Ndidi insisted there was no need for him to go anywhere else.
He told ESPN: “We are doing well and I am enjoying myself here. I still have a contract with Leicester – I am learning, trying to improve myself everyday and doing OK here, so no need to go anywhere.”
Leandro Paredes, signed for £36m from Zenit, is more of a creative-minded midfielder uncomfortable whenever deployed in a holding role with more defensive responsibility.
Idrissa Gueye’s enjoyed a memorable first year with PSG while undoubtedly bolstering their defensive-midfield qualities, but the former Everton man turns 31 in September.
It’s perhaps why they have other options to Ndidi, around the same age-range – Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey (26) and Chelsea outcast Tiemoue Bakayoko (25). The club’s sporting director Leonardo is said to want players entering their prime years who have long-term potential to succeed with PSG, so it’s no surprise they have contingency plans.
Partey has been heavily linked with a Premier League move, while Bakayoko has progressed following one-year loan spells at AC Milan and former club AS Monaco.
Stats’ source: WhoScored