sports gazette

Who is new Leicester winter transfer Wilfred Ndidi?

Published: 29 Dec 2016

The Nigerian 20-year-old Wilfred Ndidi moves from Belgian side KRC Genk to Leicester City for £15m.

A principal agreement and successful physicals in December left the young versatile defender’s five-year-deal still unconfirmed.

In the last week of 2016 Ndidi admitted Genk’s powerful victory over Gent was his last performance for the club and the new year brought the Foxes’ official confirmation.

Ndidi started playing football with the Nathaniel Boys FC in Lagos. He travelled to Genk at 17, where he was offered a contract a year later following successful trials.

In his first season in Belgium the Nigerian played a supporting role, featuring in six games and wrapping up a total of only 349 minutes in central, left and right back positions.

In that same year, Ndidi played for Nigeria in the 2015 U-20 World Cup in the summer. Only a couple months later he received his first call up to the senior team and has so far featured in six games for the Super Eagles.

His fortune in Belgium also changed when Peter Maes, the new Genk manager for the 15/16 season, put his faith in the young defender and set him up in defensive midfield next to the Spaniard Alejandro Pozuelo.

I appreciate the chances he [Peter Maes] has given me, he played a big part in acquiring this transfer and made me the player I am now

Having missed only one game this season due to a yellow card suspension Ndidi had worked himself up to a cornerstone for Genk in midfield and a more than able substitute in central defence.

With 10 games left in the regular season Genk management expressed their distrust in Peter Maes to guide them into Play Off 1 and sacked the manager Ndidi owed so much.

After his final game for Genk, the first without Peter Maes, Ndidi reacted emotional: “I really want to thank Peter. I appreciate the chances he has given me, he played a big part in acquiring this transfer and made me the player I am now.”

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has been longing for some extra power breaking down attacks in midfield as he is juggling with their Champions League round-of-16 tie against Sevilla and Premier League battle against the relegation zone.

A many-sided defensive player with a promising growth margin, Ndidi reads as the perfect replacement for N'golo Kanté.

Ndidi is especially strong in keeping things simple and although he is not a frequent scorer, one of his four goals in two years Jupiler Pro League was awarded goal of the year last May.

Moving from Genk to the Premier League he follows into the footsteps of Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Christian Benteke and Christian Kabasele.

Ndidi also steps into the top of the most expensive transfers out of the Belgian Jupiler Pro League with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini and Aleksandar Mitrovic. 

^ Back to top ^