Analysis: How has Nampalys Mendy recovered from his injury hell with Leicester City?
(Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)

Analysis: How has Nampalys Mendy recovered from his injury hell with Leicester City?

The 2018/19 season has seen the midfielder form a strong partnership alongside Wilfred Ndidi, but what effect has he had on the team since getting regular first team football?

seangilmartin97
Sean Gilmartin

Nampalys Mendy has enjoyed regular first team football during the campaign so far and seems to have won the confidence of manager Claude Puel. 

How did the 26-year-old who, last season, looked likely to depart the club due to being loaned out and had hardly any game time under his belt for Leicester City cement a starting place for the new season?

Fits Puel's system perfectly

One of the main issues Leicester fans had when Puel first took charge of the club was his decision to change the style of play at the club. The Foxes were traditionally a side who sat back and absorbed pressure before hitting teams with counter attacks. They are now a well balanced side who make use of possession football rather than risk losing it with through balls up field. 

It has taken some time, but the addition of James Maddison in a No. 10 role seems to have been the piece of the puzzle Puel's system needed to really flourish. The England international is the pivotal link between defence and attack that the Foxes have been crying out for since Puel opted for a change in system and formation.

This transition now allows Leicester's defensive midfielders to always have an outlet once they gain possession, instead of throwing it upfield and having to redo all their hard-work. 

Mendy is crucial to that system. The Frenchman is a player who works tirelessly to always break up play and eliminate any threat the opponents may carry. By him sitting back, it allows other more expressive players such as Maddison to get forward and really have their impact on the game. 

​His playing style compliments Ndidi

Last season Wilfred Ndidi had his fair share of partners in the heart of midfield with the likes of Vincente Iborra, Adrien Silva and even Hamza Choudhury. The trio were thrown into rotation due to injuries, suspensions and a lack of an idea from the manager as to who best would suit Ndidi without having to change his system of play. 

Mendy is a defensive midfielder who possesses bundles of energy and determination, whilst also remaining composed on the ball - his average of 55 passes per match so far this season is testament to his tidiness on the ball.

Protecting the defence behind him is his main priority as he has completed over 13 tackles so far this season, with a 62% success rate whilst also intercepting play from the opposition on 10 occasions. The combatant midfielder has also recovered possession 34 times, won 31 duels with opponents and clearing the ball out of danger on 6 occasions.

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Safety blanket

Not only does this allow Wilfred Ndidi to push further up the field or attempt the occasional long/slightly risky pass, Mendy's defensive work rate also benefits the likes of Harry Maguire. The defender is also free to go on a marauding run into the opposition half knowing that the midfielder will slot into his centre-half position to avoid any gaps being made available for the opposition to exploit.

This gives Mendy a unique edge over his team-mates looking to take his spot as Adrien Silva was seen as having more flair than defensive work rate, whilst Vincente Iborra was not mobile enough to provide adequate cover to let Ndidi flourish that bit more in an attacking sense.

So far this season it seems that in Nampalys Mendy, Leicester have found the right balance in their system that allows nearly all of Claude Puels plans to fall into place. If the former OGC Nice midfielder continues his run in the team, it could shape Leicester into a side that could push for a higher top half finish than the club is more than capable of.

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