Nampalys Mendy: From bit-part player to Leicester's unsung hero
Nampalys Mendy has stepped up extremely well in the absence of Wilfred Ndidi | Photo: Getty/ Catherine Ivill

It's been another strong start to the Premier League season for Leicester City.

Monday night's 1-0 win away to Arsenal secured the Foxes a first win away from home against the North London side since 1973, with the East Midlanders relying on several strong performances to win the game to back up what has been another impressive opening spell of the season for Brendan Rodgers' men.

One of those players who deserves credit for his efforts at the Emirates Stadium - as well as previous fixtures - is none other than Nampalys Mendy

The Frenchman has been instrumental in the middle of the park for Leicester so far, and for a player who at the end of last season wasn't sure if he was going to still be at the King Power Stadium, it is a perfect reminder to Foxes as to why he was originally touted as N'Golo Kante's replacement.

Magnificent Mendy stars in North London

Jamie Vardy received the plaudits - and rightly so - for yet another goal against Arsenal, but it was Mendy's work in the middle of the park that was one of the catalysts behind a famous Leicester win on Monday.

Under pressure for the majority of the game, the number 24's ability to retain possession was vital for the Foxes, winning the ball back nine times from his opponents in order to allow Leicester to bring the game back to the pace they wanted to dictate play at, before hitting the Gunners on the break.

Whilst not known for his attacking displays, Mendy was just as pivotal in the Arsenal half of the pitch, completing every one of his passes in the final third, enabling the more creative assets in the side to cause problems to the Arsenal backline - even playing a part in the build up to the goal.

It was Mendy's pass into his central midfield partner Youri Tielemans, who was then given the time and freedom to unleash a curling pass into the path of Cengiz Under, before he laid it on a plate for Vardy to head home.

From free agent to key player

As of now, Mendy has started every game in the Foxes' Premier League campaign, but come the start of the year, few would've predicted that to be the case.

Towards the end of last season, Mendy nearly left the club as a free agent, only for the club to extend his contract to be a part of the last nine games of the season following the restart of the league. It was then widely reported that the 28-year-old's future would lie elsewhere with moves to Qatar and to his homeland France talked of before he shocked everyone by signing a contract extension until 2022.

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Defensive injuries meant that Mendy was included in the starting 11 for the opening day win over West Bromwich Albion with Wilfred Ndidi covering at centre-back. The Nigerian was expected to return to his usual role whilst Mendy would return to the bench for the away trip to Manchester City only for Ndidi to complain of an injury following the win against Burnley.

To the disappointment of Leicester fans, it was confirmed that the 23-year-old would be ruled out for up to three months. Mendy subsequently kept his spot in the starting 11 and was excellent in the 5-2 thrashing of Pep Guardiola's side and since then has been regarded as one of Leicester's best players so far this season.

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What's next for Mendy?

It still remains likely that once back from injury, Ndidi will return to his usual position in the starting 11, but if performances stay to the level they are, it will be no reflection upon Mendy's ability.

With the Europa League and FA Cup schedule intertwined with a hectic fixture list in the league, the holding midfielder will be required heavily in the next few months.

Rodgers is likely to rotate his squad around to prevent any further injuries to an already-depleted first-team squad and Mendy's importance will certainly not go unnoticed. 

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