Ndidi: Is the Leicester City man the midfielder Chelsea need?

Aside from the goal against the Blues, the presenter’s job means he could be seen as solving the conundrum of Frank Lampard’s midfielder.

When Wilfred Ndidi beat Leicester City ahead early on Tuesday, it not only allowed the Foxes to settle into what turned out to be a 2-0 victory over a thornless Chelsea side that offered little for 90 minutes, but it also shook the already fragile. confidence of Frank Lampard’s men.

The Nigerian defensive midfielder opened the scoring thanks to a quick reflection on a sixth-minute set piece, helped in part by a Harvey Barnes error, to score his first Premier League goal since September 2019.

To some extent, the result of that strike also threw Lampard’s plan out the window regarding the Englishman’s daring selection at King Power Stadium. The former Derby County boss went with a midfielder from Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz, with Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham as the attacking trident.

Add to that the fact that Chelsea’s starting full-backs on the evening were Reece James and Ben Chilwell and you can tell the Blues had eight forward-thinking players in their eleven. Ndidi’s early strike, however, deprived club fans of the opportunity to see just how well the team could make him work, with the left-footed runner throwing an early key into the works.

Lampard’s choice of defensive midfielder was particularly odd, with Kovacic selected in front of the back line ahead of much-maligned Jorginho and talented Billy Gilmour. The Italy international isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, in all fairness, and has been rarely used this season – evidenced by his eight PL starts.

Yet, leaving aside the former Napoli Register was probably debatable, and some will find the choice not to put Gilmour in an unpleasant position was understandable; However, the eventual selection of Kovacic only underscores the glaring problem that has plagued Chelsea in recent years in holding the midfielder.

Experts in England tend to misrepresent N’Golo Kante as the archetype of the defensive midfielder, totally ignoring the fact that he has hardly been used to hold the midfielder since his stint in English football. When Leicester won the league in 2015/16, Danny Drinkwater played the role of a seated midfielder, controlling the tempo as best he could and using his passing reach to help the team’s counter-attacking style. .

The following year at Chelsea, Nemanja Matic played that role in a couple with the France international as Antonio Conte’s famed 3-4-3 carried the West London side to a fifth crown of Premier League.

Kante has played and never has played this role consistently, wondering why observers criticized Maurizio Sarri for not “playing him in his best position” in this stormy 18/19 season. This debate apparently stuck even after the Italian left, largely contributing to Jorginho’s strong disapproval by pundits and, in particular, supporters.

Lampard initially continued with the Frenchman in a slightly advanced role in the central midfield, taking advantage of his ball-winning qualities roaming the center of the park and higher up the pitch. However, intermittent failures of the Register has caused a change in approach from the club’s greatest player this season.


Kante was pushed deeper to play in front of the defense and the Blues seemed to have found the necessary balance in this streak of 14 wins in all competitions. Either way, the drop since December has brought back old doubts about the World Cup winner, given how he has been regularly exposed in defeats to Arsenal and particularly Manchester City.

Frankly, the team’s wider structural issues have also contributed to the recent unrest, but the conundrum of the defensive midfielder will eventually have to be resolved, with or without Lampard.

Therefore, this begs the question: why was a DM not prioritized this summer?

Before the start of the season, Goal questioned the summer affairs of the 2020 FA Cup finalists, raising concerns about whether they should have spent Havertz money on other pressing areas of the squad, such as a presenter in the middle of ground.

Thomas Partey, then Atletico Madrid star, was suggested, due to his overall quality as a central midfielder, but he has since joined north London giant Arsenal.

Lampard’s first choice for this post appears to be Declan Rice, a boy from Chelsea who has come in leaps and bounds to West Ham United in the past 12-18 months. However, the astronomical asking price of the Hammers and the uncertain future of the West London club boss mean that a deal is unlikely.

So why not Ndidi?

Certainly Leicester won’t let him go for the peanuts due to the significant progress he has made since arriving at Genk in January 2017, while the sale of another key player to a rival could upset the Foxes hierarchy.

Still, it makes sense for the Blues to take charge of the Nigerian international because of his skill at playing in front of the defense, his winning qualities and his pressing skill. Reservations may arise about the West African ball’s progress – it currently ranks fifth in progressive 90 passes this season for Leicester – but the last quarter has demonstrated its growing multifaceted nature.

The significant decrease in passing in the final third and progressive passing can be attributed to playing intermittently in central defense as well as frequently playing with a midfielder partner, mainly Youri Tielemans, who bears greater responsibility in the driving the Foxes in the field.

Despite Tuesday night’s score, it was not the most eye-catching performance for the Super Eagle, but his overall rise in one of the game’s astute midfielders calls into question why the visitors beaten on Tuesday did not seek to solve a problem. protracted problem in the middle of the park.