Former Southampton CEO Les Reed has recently admitted that Southampton were looking at signing Wilfried Ndidi in 2016 following the departure of Victor Wanyama.
Speaking to ThisisFutbol, Reed said:
“When Wanyama went to Tottenham Hotspur, Wilfried Ndidi was someone who was on our radar.”
Wanyama joined Spurs from Southampton in the summer of 2016 after making 97 appearances for the Saints between 2013-2016, so he was a big player for the South Coast club to try and replace.
Ndidi was at Belgian side KRC Genk at the time and would’ve been available for around £15m had Southampton looked to sign him in the same summer window, as he would join Leicester City for that price in January 2017.
Since then, he has made 176 appearances for the Foxes, contributing nine goals and 11 assists, in which time he has established himself as one of the best defensive-midfielders in the Premier League.
His transfer value has shot up during his time with Leicester City, with Transfermarkt now valuing the Nigeria international at £45m, which certainly suggests that he would have been a worthwhile signing for the Saints.
This season saw the 24-year-old contribute one goal and four assists in 26 league appearances for Leicester City, which helped him average an excellent 7.25 rating from WhoScored.
This ranked him as the best performer in Brendan Rodgers’ side this season as they fell narrowly short of securing a top-four spot, which emphasises just how good a player he has become during his time in the Premier League.
Back in 2019, Rodgers was full of praise for his midfielder, saying:
“He is an incredible player. The offensive players get the credit but he does the dirty work.”
“He has this brain for the game, where he can smell danger and always finds himself there. The timing of his challenge is very good and he’s up there with the top players at winning the ball back.”
Therefore, it seems clear that Ndidi would have been a superb addition to Southampton’s side in 2016, and Saints fans will likely be fuming that their club did not pursue him further after Wanyama’s departure given how good he’s been for the Foxes.
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