Former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has been given the task of rebuilding Leicester City as they continue to seek a tactical clean-break from their 2015/2016 Premier League-winning season.
While former manager, Claude Puel’s spell at Leicester City was not disastrous, the results were not fair to him while his uninspiring style of football and his fragile relationship with players meant his days at the club were always numbered.
In Rodgers, Leicester City have gone for the polar, a manager capable of delivering an ambitious and energetic style of play that will surely please the fans. Also, Leicester City have been lucky to assemble one of the best squads in the Premier League outside of the top six, which will make Rodgers' task easier.
One of these players Rodgers has to work with at Leicester City is Wilfred Ndidi who is set for more demanding times under the new manager.
It's a familiar terrain for Ndidi who has already had to work under a new coach thrice at Leicester City. Since he joined the Premier League side in January 2017, Ndidi has worked with three coaches-Claudio Ranieri, Craig Shakespeare and Puel. Rodgers will the fourth in just two years.
So far, the managerial changes have not really affected Ndidi who has been growing in leaps and bounds since he moved to England. But the arrival of Rodgers is expected to push him either further or out of the club.
As a defensive midfielder, Ndidi has been one of the best in the Premier League. He was the second best tackler in Europe last season and so been in the top five this season.
He is a magnificent ball winner no doubt, but under Rodgers, he will be required to do more and therein lies the challenge.
Rodgers loves his defensive midfielders to be more dynamic than Ndidi has shown. Keep the ball well, control the game, dictate play and yea, tackle and win the ball. This is why he brought Steven Gerrard back to the front of the defence at Liverpool.
In his early days at Celtic, he found Nir Bitton as the ideal dictator to play the ball and sit deep as the deepest player of his midfield-three. This season, skipper Scott Brown has been that man while Callum McGregor has surprisingly adapted to playing the deep-lying midfield role while deputising for Brown.
From Liverpool to Celtic, Rodgers has fancied midfielders with abilities on the ball as his defensive midfielders.
More than a ball-winner
With this, it is safe to say that Ndidi needs to work on other facets of his game to stand a chance under Rodgers. It’s even more challenging for Ndidi that in Nampalys Mendy, Leicester City have another player very similar to him.
There is only one spot for both Ndidi and Mendy in Rodgers’ preferred set-up. The other spots in Rodgers’ midfield-three are for more dynamic players and in Youri Tielemans and James Madison, the Northern Irish coach has the perfect candidates with ball-carrying and goal scoring abilities.
To his advantage, Ndidi remains a fan favourite at Leicester City and Rodgers would love to get the supporters on board by picking him.
The Nigerian has also had the opportunity of showing how good a partnership with Tielemans-an excellent January transfer recruit-can be. Both were excellent in the middle of the park in Leicester City’s 1-3 loss to Tottenham a fortnight ago.
On Tuesday night at the King Power Stadium, Rodgers saw from the stands how good the two midfielders can be together.
Ndidi is still a young player who has performed above expectation and thrived in England. He will have the chance to improve under Rodgers who as a coach, is known to be obsessed with details. The Nigerian midfielder has a very short time to show he can deliver what Rodgers wants.
There are reports already of the new Leicester City boss being interested in bringing McGregor to the King Power Stadium next season. Ndidi has the remaining fixtures of this season to show Rodgers that he has no need for his former charge. Anything short of that will be detrimental to his Leicester City career.