ANALYSIS: Ndidi must stay fit for Leicester to do well in Premier League

Wilfred Ndidi’s Premier League output has steadily declined since joining Leicester City from KRC Genk for around $18 million in 2017.

This has not affected Ndidi’s transfer market value, which is estimated to be $61 million as of June 15, 2022, according to Transfermarkt.

Since joining the Foxes, the 25-year-old has missed 44 league games, the most significant of which were the 74 days that effectively ended his 2021/22 season.

It’s debatable whether Ndidi’s extended absence, along with other absentees like Wesley Fofana, contributed to Leicester’s worst league finish since Brendan Rodgers took over in 2019.

He played 19 games for the Foxes last season, losing eight, winning seven, and drawing four.

Ndidi has played in 165 Premier League games, scoring seven goals and assisting with nine goals.

And as his game count has decreased, so has his Leicester team’s performance.

The only statistical index that improved for Ndidi last season was shots on goal, although he did not score any goals. These are some of Ndidi’s statistics from the previous three seasons.

Ndidi discussed his and the team’s expectations in an interview with Leicester ahead of the start of the new 2022/23 season.

“Everyone is feeling fit, and the mentality is really good,” Ndidi explained to LCFC TV.

After playing an hour against Derby, Ndidi reflected, “It was a good feeling for me because I have been working hard at coming back. It is really important for me because of getting my match fitness up and just enjoying the game.”

Ndidi revealed the ‘tough’ preparations for the new season. “It’s been really tough; it’s pre-season, anyway. He [Rodgers] has been preparing us, fitness-wise. Trying to prepare us for the task ahead, which is really good and, as I said earlier, the mentality also comes in.”

Leicester City is the only team in the Premier League that has yet to make a signing during the transfer window, while some of their players, such as Fofana and Youri Tielemans, are still being pursued by other clubs.

Club legend Kasper Schmeichel has left for Nice in France.

The Foxes beat Sevilla 1-0 on Sunday to end their pre-season on a high note. They have almost their entire squad fit for the start of the season, but keeping their Nigerian midfielder fit and injury-free will be critical.

Ndidi believes Leicester is a united team, with a lot to prove. Brendan Rodgers’ side finished eighth last season, and the poignant reason was the number of games they lost, 14, and the goals conceded, 59. At the end of the season, the Foxes had a meagre +3 goal differential.

Ndidi was fourth on the list of tackles made (96) in the 2020/21 season and second with 128 tackles in the 2019/20 season. He did not make the top ten in 2021/22. He finished second in interceptions (80) in the 2019/20 season and eighth with 61 interceptions in the 2020/21 season, but he failed to crack the top 20 in the 2021/22 season.

Ndidi ranked 11th with 42 aerial duels won in the previous season, seventh with 57 in the 2020/21 season, and sixth with 83 in the 2019/20 season.

These numbers largely tell the story of why Leicester fell away last season, even though the reasons were not solely because of Ndidi’s absence, but they contributed to the Foxes failing to qualify for Europe for the 2022/23 season.

The season begins for Ndidi and Leicester on Sunday against Brentford at the King Power Stadium.