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Wilfred Ndidi, the NxGn starlet ready to fly with the Super Eagles

12:00 PM GMT 06/06/2018
NxGn Ndidi GFX
The midfielder has flourished at the heart of Leicester's midfield since arriving from Genk in January last year and is ready to take Russia by storm

Wilfred Ndidi's move to Leicester City was met with little fanfare outside of the East Midlands.

The then Premier League champions acted diligently to recruit him from Belgian giants Genk in January last year as they desperately attempted to salvage the dispiriting season which followed their miraculous romp to the title.

After being thrust immediately into the starting line-up by former boss Claudio Ranieri, who was relieved of his duties at the King Power Stadium just six weeks after Ndidi's arrival, the 21-year-old emerged as a key figure in the Foxes' revival under Craig Shakespeare and progressed further under the tutelage of current manager Claude Puel, who recently described him as the most consistent player in his squad.

Efficient both with and without the ball, Ndidi made the most tackles in the Premier League last season (138) and established himself as the hub of Leicester's side, averaging around 51 passes per game. The next step for the talented starlet would be to hone the offensive side of his skillset, but his services are already very much admired by a number of the Premier League's top six.

Ndidi's gutsy and graceful performances for Puel's men reportedly led to interest from the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, who were said to be keeping close tabs on him before he joined Leicester.

But speculation over his long-term future will matter little over the next few weeks. Ndidi is preparing for his first World Cup with Nigeria and will be crucial to his country's chances of progression in Russia - providing he is able to shake off a hamstring injury and return to full fitness for the Super Eagles' opener against Croatia.

Along with fellow Premier League stars Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Victor Moses, Ndidi is one of the stars of a Nigeria squad lacking in quality when compared to its predecessors and he will have to be at his combative best if Gernot Rohr's side are to have any hope of progressing out of arguably the toughest group of the competition.

Ndidi made a remarkable nine tackles during Leicester's 4-1 win away victory at Southampton in December, and he may have to repeat the feat against Croatia and Argentina before perhaps turning to his creative side against Iceland, who will certainly be no pushover as they look to replicate their remarkable Euro 2016 adventure.

Nigeria are not expected to make it to the knockout stages in Russia, but a strong showing from Ndidi will only heighten the interest in him, regardless of whether Nigeria make it out of their group or not.

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