Many African players have light up the European leagues ever since the days of George Weah. These include Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o, Yaya Toure, Okocha, etc. who have performed at an extraordinary level in the past decades. Mo Salah of Liverpool and Egypt has been the fan favorite this year for his record-breaking goals and guiding his club to the UEFA Champions League final. But this is not all the continent has to offer. There are other young players who are showing early promises of reaching these levels or even better them. Therefore, FirstTouch reflects on the next transcendent U23 players in each position.
CDM - Wilfred Ndidi
Nigerian midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi has already started to make a name for himself in the most competitive leagues in Europe. The 21-year old moved to Leicester in January 2017 for £15m from Genk. He has since proved his worth against some of the best tacklers in the game such as N'golo Kante and Idrissa Gana Gueye who are all of the African descent. Ndidi is leading the Premier League charts as the best tackler with 138 in his 33 league appearances. The player also proved that he is an all-round midfielder and can offer more in terms of goal creation as he has scored a goal and provided 3 assists for Leicester in the league and FA Cup. It is exciting to hear that the young Nigerian is being linked with clubs like Arsenal who have had many problems in midfield ever since Patrick Vieira left the club. Ndidi has the potential to be a Premier League great if he makes a wise decision which involves him moving to a bigger club that can take his game to the next level like the likes of Michael Essien did at Chelsea under Mourinho. The season has ended and his focus is on the FIFA World Cup where he will be representing his nation who will play their first match against Croatia.
The 21-year old midfield enforcer is as good as anyone you can get in his position and will be looking to strike a formidable midfield partnership with former Nigerian teammate and Golden Boy Winner John Obi Mikel who used to play for Chelsea before he left for China. We expect Ndidi to be doing the 'dirty work' for the team before distributing the ball to the playmaker who will transition the play to attack and hurt teams like Argentina, Croatia and Iceland in Group D. Wilfred has a long career ahead of him and should be looking to prove his worth especially against Messi's team if he hopes of moving from being considered a good player to a great player. Arsenal has been reported to be sniffing around the possibility of capturing the talented African midfield enforcer and making him their new Vieira who will shut opponents if they try to break them on the counter. Will Ndidi be ready by the time the tournament kicks off in 21 days?