Leicester City spent £13M on OGC Nice midfielder Nampalys Mendy in anticipation of the sale of N’Kolo Kante to Chelsea this summer, and on the surface the new-boy looks capable of going some way to emulating the French international.
The two players have similar skill-sets. Both are combative, highly-industrious and diminutive in stature. Leicester sign Kante from the French Ligue 2 in the summer of 2015, and now they have signed Mendy from the French Ligue 1 this summer. He could turn out to be a sharp acquisition too.
Mendy, 24, operates as the defensive midfielder between the backline and midfield, snuffing out potential counter attacks, while having the ability to launch an attack from deep with his impressive range of passing. The Nice man completed more than 70% of his long passes, and averaged a tackle or interception every 23 minutes.
Kante had the ability to take the ball forward, but Mendy will be more restrained. The latter seldom dribbled the ball from deep positions, nor will he affect the game in the final third, but Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri – who he played under for former side Monaco – could well coach him to develop his game.
“I am very happy to come to Leicester City. The team have just enjoyed a great season and it’s excellent to be here. For me I want to play at this level. I like the Premier League and I follow every match. It’s fast and physical and I want to impose myself on the league. I know (Ranieri), I know his mentality and I know his philosophy. When he speaks it’s direct and clear and for me I like this,” said Mendy.
Alongside the likes of Danny Drinkwater, Leicester should still boast an effective midfield capable of picking up where they left off, and in Mendy they have a combative influence while making £17M in profit. In addition to his combative qualities gaining the attention of Leicester, Mendy’s passing might also have been a key factor in the Foxes pushing through the deal this summer.
The 24-year-old isn’t shy to hit balls from lengthy distances, which is in-keeping with Leicester’s philosophy, so the likes of pacey Jamie Vardy and new-boy Ahmed Musa could well benefit. Mendy’s fitness record is very impressive, with the midfielder playing in 110 of 112 league games since his move from AS Monaco to Nice in 2013.
Leicester’s new man is described as reliable and consistent, and as things stand will be part of the same team that surprisingly won the Premier League title last season, sans Kante. The likes of Drinkwater, Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez are all seemingly staying at the King Power Stadium and should help to blood Mendy into the side quickly.
If Leicester can keep their star performers of last season, there’s no reason why they can’t enjoy another fantastic season in 2016/17, but the coming weeks will reveal which players are willing to stay at least one more season.
Could Nampalys Mendy be the difference for Leicester City in his debut season at the King Power?