Manchester United will be bitterly disappointed to leave the King Power Stadium with only a point, especially after leading twice, but a point against Leicester can only be considered a positive given their transformation under Brendan Rodgers.
Through careful and considered recruitment, the Foxes have emerged as an unlikely dark horse in the Premier League title race. Their fairy tale championship in 2016 was an anomaly but the side that held United to a draw are making rapid and significant progress under the former Liverpool manager.
Central to Leicester’s recent success is their midfield dynamo Wilfred Ndidi who was at his brilliant best against United, giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a reminder of how a world-class defensive midfielder operates.
Solsksjaer opted for his tried and tested midfield duo of Fred and Scott McTominay against the Foxes but both men struggled to gain control of the midfield battle. United’s only natural defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic was an unused substitute. The Serbian enjoyed a resurgence in the starting XI at the end of last season and was rewarded with a new contract.
However, it’s clear United will need to replace the former Chelsea man in the near future and Ndidi showcased what he could bring to this United side on Saturday.
The 24-year-old made seven tackles against United – more than any other player on the field. His defensive contribution also led to Leicester’s equaliser. He was quick to close down Bruno Fernandes as United looked to counter and denied the Portuguese from playing the ball through his legs. Leicester would score through Harvey Barnes from the subsequent attack.
As Leicester supporters will know, this is a similar theme with Ndidi who often starts Leicester attack through his defensive awareness. The midfielder was on hand to deny Lucas Moura during their recent fixture against Tottenham with Leicester scoring their all important second goal against Jose Mourinho’s side from the resulting attack.
Ndidi is arguably the most important player in Rodgers’ side, allowing the likes of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans to express themselves and provide ammunition for Jamie Vardy. He won 17 out of 24 duels against United, completed 84 per cent of his passes and made three crucial interceptions. It’s no surprise to see Leicester challenging at the top of the table again following his return from injury.
Leicester, of course, would be unwilling to lose their star midfielder but could be powerless to resist if United present an excellent offer. Ndidi would be the perfect successor for Matic and allow Fernandes the licence to create and feed United’s attackers. At 24, he is still improving yet is proven in the Premier League.
United title winner Owen Hargreaves lauded Fernandes’ impact after the Leicester draw and urged the United board to add more players of his quality, akin to the way Liverpool did with the additions of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker.
He said: “That’s one player – look at the impact it’s made.
“If they could get one or two more of those types of players. Liverpool did it with Alisson and Van Dijk. It’s not quantity, it’s quality. Bruno has been nothing but quality since he’s arrived.”
Signing Ndidi in the summer would do just that.