Back in December, Jamie Vardy issued a frustrated statement, claiming that Claude Puel’s style of play didn’t suit him.
The forward has since flourished under Brendan Rodgers, and although Vardy is key to the Leicester side, he arguably isn’t the man that’s benefited most from Puel’s sacking.
Wilfred Ndidi has been the biggest benefactor. The Nigerian has been a top signing since arriving from Genk in 2017 but under Puel seemed to lose his way in a few games.
He’s usually known to be an incredibly consistent player and so far under Rodgers, he’s shown that.
Vitally, Ndidi and Youri Tielemans have already established a terrific understanding of each other’s games and their simple yet effective partnership has provided more protection in defence and better fluidity going forward too.
Before Tielemans arrived he was having to do two jobs in midfield and was essentially playing as a box to box midfielder. However, he’s now playing simply as the holding player.
It’s benefited him hugely and that can be seen in his stats since Rodgers arrived from Celtic.
The Foxes boss said this week about the Nigerian: “All we try to do is make it clear what his function is in the team. It’s a job that may seem a simple job but he does it so effectively. He has to win the ball and give it, simple as that. He doesn’t need to be in the box shooting, that’s not your job.”
It’s going back to the basics and the simplicity of his game that is really noticeable about the midfielder now. In the last six games he played before Puel was sacked, he notched up 11 dribbles. The six games after has seen him perform just three.
That’s a clear indication of Rodgers telling him to sit deep and play simple, rather than rampaging forward.
It’s been incredibly effective too. He’s made nine more tackles under Rodgers than he did in the same six-game period where he was dribbling with the ball more under Puel.
The fact Ndidi is still only 22 years of age is easy to forget and it surely won’t be long before he becomes one of the most accomplished defensive midfielders in the English game.
Leicester will do well to hang onto him if bigger clubs come calling this summer.