It has been a quiet summer for Nigerian players in the transfer market. Unlike last year which saw Victor Osimhen joined Napoli from Lille for a club and African record fee of 81.3m, the biggest transfer involving a Nigerian player so far this summer is the one that took Emmanuel Dennis to Watford.
But with a month left in the window, there could still be a surprise move involving Nigerian players, one of which is Wilfred Ndidi to Manchester United.
Last week the Red Devils agreed a deal to sign Raphael Varane from Real Madrid, but while the fans were excited, they urged the club to also go for a defensive midfielder, preferably Ndidi from Leicester City.
The Super Eagles star joined the Foxes from Genk in January 2017 and has gone on to become one of the best defensive midfielders in the game.
Despite arriving in January, Ndidi won the Foxes young player of the season for the 2017/2018 campaign. He picked up the same award in his first full season.
Since he arrived at the beginning of 2017, Ndidi’s performance level has always gone up a level higher every season, which is why it’s not a surprise Manchester United fans want him at Old Trafford.
But will he fit in?
100% yes. It’s no secret that Man Utd need a top defensive midfielder, and there’s no one better than Ndidi.
No player has made more tackles (224) in Europe’s top five leagues since August 2019 than the Super Eagles midfielder.
His performance last season provides more clarity. Despite missing almost three months of action due to an adductor injury, Ndidi made 108 tackles in the Premier League last season, according to Fbref.
In contrast, Nemanja Matic and Fred, Manchester United’s defensive midfielders last season, made 24 and 88, respectively.
Although it’s important to note that Fred played as a defensive midfielder 16 times while Matic only played 20 times.
But what’s more impressive about Ndidi’s tackling is that it’s all over the pitch. Fifty of his total number of tackles came in the defensive third, with 49 in the mid-third, while nine is in the attacking third.
He also made 68 interceptions, 62 blocks and 77 clearances, with no error directly leading to a goal. While Ndidi is a fantastic ball winner, his ability on the ball has been questioned in the past. However, his performance last season shows he has also improved in that aspect.
Ndidi completed 1201 passes in the league last season, although it’s short of Fred’s 1555. Four hundred eighty-five were short passes, 529 were medium, while he completed 161 long passes.
Fred’s involvement in 67 shot-creating actions dwarfs Ndidi’s 37, but the Nigerian was involved in more goalscoring actions (8) than Fred’s five.
He also completed 11 dribbles out of 20 attempts with a success rate of 55%. Ndidi had 1710 touches, with 189 in the attacking third and 14 in the penalty area.
It’s important to note that Ndidi won’t have to do much of attacking at Man Utd given the creative and attacking responsibilities will be on Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes.
His main job will be to break the opposition’s attacking play, be a shield for the defence and provide stability in the middle of the park, which is why he’ll be a perfect fit.
But is a deal possible?
Man Utd have been busy in the transfer market, spending heavily on Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane. They are not done yet, as it’s also clear they need a defensive midfielder.
There may be an interest in Ndidi, but a potential transfer is only likely to happen if they can raise funds from sales of players.
Even with that, it would be hard to convince Leicester to sell. It would take a monumental offer for the Foxes to sell one of their key men.
There’s also no pressure to sell as Ndidi’s current deal does not expire until 2024. Personally, Ndidi could also decide not to change clubs because of his education at De Montfort University.
The Nigerian international is currently studying Business and Management at the University, which could play a major role in any decision he makes.
However, a chance to play at Man Utd is one of a lifetime, which could also influence his decision. Nonetheless, he’s still a Leicester City player for now, and it will likely stay like that when the transfer window ends.