Name: Wilfried Ndidi
Club: Leicester City
World Cup Influence: 7/10
Nigeria ended the qualifying campaign with a 1-1 draw against Algeria, but this was overturned due to Nigeria fielding an ineligible player and Algeria were awarded a 3-0 win, resulting in Nigeria’s only “loss” in qualifying. This will be Nigeria’s 6th World Cup campaign, having previously qualified in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014, and will be looking to add to their 3 African Cup of Nations titles.
Performance of Player in Qualification:
Ndidi started 5 of Nigeria’s qualifying group games, and came on as a late sub in the final game during a 2-1 win over Zambia.
Including friendly matches, Ndidi has made 18 appearances to date for the Super Eagles. At club level, he made 33 league appearances for Leicester City in the Premier League this season, and his impressive form for the Foxes is what earned him a call up to the World Cup squad.
As a versatile midfielder, Ndidi can play in defence as well as in midfield. He was signed by Leicester to be the direct replacement for outgoing N’Golo Kante, and he stepped up admirably to make the position his own. Ndidi is a tall player at 6ft 2in, and as a result is an effective aerial presence. His passing range is fantastic, with long range passing a specialty of his, and is capable of scoring goals too, possessing a shot which when hit correctly, is hard for any keeper to stop. He is something of a physical specimen, and will only grow stronger as he grows and develops.
Ndidi will be a huge influence for Nigeria at the World Cup, as his work rate is second to none, the only real criticism of him at this time is his lack of any real creativity. But as a young player this will come with time, and with the eyes of the world watching he will be looking to take the opportunity to shine brightly.
Why he’s one to watch:
Whilst many won’t be expecting Nigeria to go all the way and win the World Cup, there’s no doubting they have the ability to make a real statement and could potentially be dark horses in the competition. With Ndidi at the heart of the midfield, pulling the strings and using his vision to complement the attacking threat that Nigeria possess, he could propel the team on to the latter rounds and help them to mount a serious challenge. His versatility will no doubt be utilised in situations where defence becomes more important than attack, as he is able to competently slot back into defence, he is an excellent tackler, and crucially, is able to do so without too many fouls being given against him. With all the skill and ability he has, this could very well be the making of him.
Video of Player/compilation:
Football Manager stats:
Looking at his stats, you can see that his strength and stamina are high, and this will stand him in good stead as he will be a combative force in midfield. As mentioned before, his high work rate, combined with excellent teamwork will be a valuable asset as Nigeria look to build attacks through the midfield. The mental side to his game is very impressive for a player so young, and really backs up why he is a player you should definitely be keeping an eye on during the World Cup finals this summer.
This isn’t the only ‘One to Watch’, we are releasing a one to watch article for every nation in the World Cup. An hour before each team kick off their first World Cup Group Stage game, we will release that nations one to watch. These can be viewed here – One to Watch for all Nations in World Cup 2018
Make sure you follow us on our social media accounts, this is the best way to keep up to date with all things Dictate The Game.