Despite being linked with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid, Wilfred Ndidi is not the kind of person to let success go to his head.
The Leicester City star maintains a low profile despite being rated as one of the best holding midfielders in Europe. That is a tag he shares with the man he replaced in the Foxes midfield, N’Golo Kante.
However, Ndidi is happy to focus on himself as he turns 25 today.
“I focus on myself, I am always critical of myself, I do my best to improve as a footballer game by game and giving my best for my club,” he told BBC Sport Africa in April.
“The comparison with others, about who is better or if Kante and I play alike, is irrelevant to me. I think all that comparison was for those who love to talk and I didn’t focus on it.
“You’re comfortable when you are yourself and not listening or trying to be something you are not.
“I just love to give my best and when the media talk about it, that’s good for the team.
“I am not someone chasing personal glory or get distracted because of the praises or criticism, you’ll get both in football anyway.
“My job is helping the team. Doing everything I can to get three points and victory for the club, which is very important.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to play in the Premier League and chance to enjoy my game at a club like Leicester, where no player is more important than the team.
“I make a contribution like everyone else in the squad and if that helps us to achieve our collective effort, then I am happy to play my part.”
Ndidi’s quality is not lost on manager Brendan Rodgers.
“He’s one of the top players in world football. His quality in his football is improving all the time,” he said earlier this year.
“He is irreplaceable for us. He’s fantastic for a young player. What is pleasing as a coach, is that he wants to learn. He will improve and get better. I’m so happy he plays in my team.”
Edinson Cavani’s sudden backtrack on Man Utd exit as he responds to Barcelona offer
Manchester United are not expecting Edinson Cavani to force an exit in January after Barcelona reportedly offered the striker a contract
It’s been claimed there will be a mass exodus at United in the upcoming window as Ralf Rangnick begins his rebuild at Old Trafford.
Cavani is one of the names linked with a departure with the Uruguayan out of contract at the end of the season after signing a one-year extension in the summer.
The striker has barely featured this season and multiple reports suggest he is unhappy with his lack of playing time as he assesses his options ahead of January.
Barcelona appears to be leading the race for his signature with an offer on the table for personal terms, according to reports in Spain.
It’s claimed Cavani has been offered an 18-month contract that would earn him £3m and just under £1m in bonuses for the first six months, and then £3.5m and £1.3m for the remainder of the deal.
But Man United are not anticipating the forward to push for a move away from the club, reports the Manchester Evening News.
The 34-year-old isn’t getting distracted by all the speculation either as the former PSG talisman insists he isn’t thinking about what will happen next month, but fully focused on the short term instead.
Cavani told United’s in-house media: “I think one of the most important things, maybe one of the really key things here, is to always approach games and prepare for them on a strictly match-by-match basis.
“That really is what my vision of football is all about, my view of how a season might pan out. Don’t make a lot of plans in your head about anything in the long-term. So, in December or whatever the date, we’ll be there or thereabouts.
No, I think you have to prepare for each game like it was a final. And then, gradually, keep an eye on how things are going and what’s happening generally. So, I think December’s an important month, to think about and take in that way.
“Focus on the next game, pick up vital points and then gradually keep adding to the points tally, so we can then get to the halfway point in the season, which comes at the end of December, and see what things are looking like then.
“Then, it’s all about keeping going in the same way, step by step, through until the end of the campaign. That’s, more or less, how I view the game of football and each competition we’re involved in.”
Xavi to capitilise on Man Utd dressing room problems as Barcelona target double transfer
Barcelona have been linked with a double move for Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial as disharmony in the Manchester United dressing room has resurfaced.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s overreliance on his first-team stars caused friction in the squad before he was sacked as fringe players were frozen out.
And while Ralf Rangnick’s arrival has steadied the ship, it seems these issues still persist.
And the latest one is Greenwood who has seen his role diminished since Rangnick took over.
El Nacional claims he is ‘upset’ with his lack of playing time under the new boss after being a regular under Solskjaer.
The 20-year-old is specifically irked by the fact Ronaldo is always the first name on the teamsheet with his growing influence in the dressing room despite only joining in the summer.
The report states Greenwood is looking into the possibility of leaving Old Trafford, as a result, with Arsenal, Juventus and Barcelona linked with the rising star.
Xavi is looking to rebuild the Catalan side after the legendary midfielder returned to the club following the dismissal of Ronald Koeman as he forms a young nucleus with the likes of Ansu Fati, Pedri and Gavi.
Greenwood fits that mold, but he will be difficult to prize away from United with his current contract running until 2025.
Martial is another player on the fringes of Rangnick’s side and is reportedly unsettled at Old Trafford as he looks for an exit in January.
Barca have registered an interest in the Frenchman, but the report states that Xavi’s preference is Greenwood out of the pair.
Martial’s agent, Philippe Lamboley, expressed his client’s desire to leave United last week.
Rangnick insists he has not heard anything from the forward, but has warned that he should tell him directly if he’s unhappy, instead of communicating through his agent.
He said: “I don’t communicate with agents via the media or the press. The player hasn’t spoken with me or with us about it… To be honest, what his agent has said in the media is not that much of interest.”
Asked whether he would speak to the forward about his Lamboley’s admission, Rangnick added: “No, because then I’d react to what the agent has said.
“It should be the player. If a player wishes to go to another club, it should be the player who informs either the board or myself, whoever.
“I have never spoken to a player via media or agents.”
3 Atletico Madrid players who Man Utd must ask for in ‘Anthony Martial exchange’
Manchester United must be clever when Atletico Madrid come to the negotiating table over Anthony Martial.
The Spanish champions are keen to bolster their strikeforce after letting Alvaro Morata depart on loan for Juventus.
And they have decided that Martial could be the ideal option after the player revealed he wanted to leave Old Trafford as soon as possible.
With the January transfer window opening up in a matter of weeks, an imminent departure is on the cards.
Atletico are strapped for cash due to Covid but have some high-value players that they are prepared to throw into a potential exchange deal.
But United cannot be bullied in the transfer window and must be smart enough to pressure the Spaniards into giving them any of three players who would benefit them more than losing Martial.
The first and biggest priority should be Marcos Llorente, who the Red Devils have been linked with before.
A £68m bid was touted in the past but a swap deal with Martial would represent better value for United, who see the former Monaco man as expendable to an extent.
The midfielder would slot straight into a position Ralf Rangnick is keen to bolster and would fulfil an important duty in front of the back four.
As well as performing well there, Llorente can also play at right-back – another role that has caused concern for United this season.
The Spain international effectively plugs two holes in one whereas Martial’s game-time can go straight either Amad or Anthony Elanga.
Failing that, United should go and ask for Yanick Carrasco, whose versatility would also be a major plus for Rangnick.
The Belgium international would be able to fit straight into the side where Martial would vacate on the left-hand side of a front three.
But the 28-year-old is adaptable and could operate as a left wing-back should United play with three at the back.
Under Rangnick, that is entirely possible with the German keen to impress further tactical systems on his new side and Carrasco could fulfil either duty.
United’s longstanding interest in Kieran Trippier means that the Englishman is likely to be mentioned should talks go ahead over Martial.
But whether he is a club target of one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s remains to be seen, though his arrival could spark a reaction from Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who is out of form.
Rangnick has preferred Diogo Dalot recently, though, who has come and proved he is a worthy squad member.
However, Trippier’s experience, versatility and ability with set-pieces makes him vital to most teams in the world and United could do with the ex-Tottenham star in their team.
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