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Leicester City 2017/18 positional review: Midfielders

There was some good, some bad, and some weird.

Southampton v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images

With the 2017/18 season in the books, we’ll be reviewing the performance of the squad by position. Today’s focus will be on the midfielders. Previous reviews: GK & DEF

Several permutations of the midfield contingent were used throughout the season for Leicester City. Between injuries, suspensions, and one particularly dubious paperwork error there was no shortage of obstacles to finding a consistent pairing. As a result, the production from the position was fairly inconsistent.

Wilfred Ndidi

Wilf burst onto the scene last season after arriving in the January transfer window and has made the position his own. He even won the Leicester City Young Player of the Year award this season (after already having done so last year) and cemented himself as one of the most important players in the squad.

Ndidi played in 33 of the 38 Premier League games and led the league in tackles with 138. The next closest was Idrissa Gueye with a full 21 tackles less than him, but perhaps even more notable was that N’golo Kanté, the man Ndidi was tasked with replacing, finished in third with 113 tackles (25 less than Wilf).

Aside from a few untimely suspensions, it was an overwhelmingly positive season for the Nigerian midfielder. With all he has accomplished it’s easy to forget he is still just 21-years-old, but the future looks to be extremely bright for him.

Also, he is very very cool.

Vicente Iborra

The big Spaniard came from sunny Spain to live on Saffron Lane and it’s a good thing he did. The second midfield position next to Ndidi was a revolving door throughout the season, but the player who occupied it best was probably Vicente Iborra.

It took him a while to acclimate to the pace of English football, but when he did he seemed to see the game in slow-motion. He was always calm and made a habit out of picking the right passes. A welcomed side-effect of having him on the pitch was his effectiveness on set-pieces - both offensive and defensive. When he finally settled into the side his big frame allowed him to slow some of the issues the Foxes were having defending corners as well as provide a target on the other end. He ended the season with three Premier League goals as a result.

Unfortunately, Iborra suffered injuries that limited his minutes and impact in his first season in Leicester.

Adrien Silva

It was a fairly tumultuous year for Silva. The infamous transfer mishap seemed to hamper his chances of adjusting to a new country and league. When he was finally cleared to play he found himself behind both Vicente Iborra and Matty James (we’ll get to him) in the pecking order.

By the end of the season Silva had made just 16 appearances in all competitions for Leicester, only 12 of which were starts. At his best Silva provided a better balance of defensive effort and offensive creativity than Iborra, but at his worst he was utterly un-impactful in all aspects of the game. Perhaps due to the unfortunate circumstances of his arrival, however, he too often seemed uncomfortable and unable to reach his best.

Matty James

The long-time Fox finally made his return to the team this season after a horrific run of injuries kept him away for about two years.

In many ways, James’ season mirrored Iborra’s. Both players functioned within the system in similar capacities. When he played, James constantly picked out good passes and avoided crucial mistakes. His presence in the side was a calming one that provided stability, but at times he seemed to lack the inventiveness of his counterparts.

Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely once again as he can’t seem to avoid being bitten by the injury bug. With the depth of the midfield, his future at the club could be in question, though he does seem to fit Claude Puel’s preferred mold.

Hamza Choudhury

Leicester City v West Ham United - Premier League
Hamza Choudhury making one of his many team-saving tackles.
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The young midfielder was called upon late in the season when injuries and suspensions began to pile up for the other members of the group. The results were very promising.

At just 20-years-old Choudhury looked to be a dangerous midfield destroyer. He made a habit of covering large distances and making timely challenges. Conversely, his contributions to attack were limited, but there wasn’t much asked of him in that regard.

He ended the season with four starts to his name and five appearances as a substitute. In that time he impressed enough to earn his first call-up to the England under-21 team, for whom he debuted in May.

Andy King

The one-club man became a two-club man this season and he may be gone for good. Andy King has long served the club loyally and earned immense respect as a result. In recent years, however, he has become a supplementary piece rather than an essential one.

This season he made 15 total appearances for the Foxes in which he seemed a safe, but mostly unimpressive option, before riding off into the sunset (or Swansea). Regardless, Andy King will forever remain a beloved figure in Leicester City lore.

Poll

How would you rate our midfielders’ season?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (1 vote)
  • 55%
    B
    (25 votes)
  • 33%
    C
    (15 votes)
  • 8%
    D
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (0 votes)
45 votes total Vote Now