Stepping onto the field just before half-time in place of the injured Vicente Iborra, Leicester City youngster Hamza Choudhury put in a very encouraging shift that was littered with upside vs. Newcastle United.
Exuding such composure and authority throughout his time afield, you could’ve been forgiven for thinking he was an experienced veteran, not a 20-year-old making just his second Premier League appearance. Claude Puel, Leicester’s manager, duly highlighted Choudhury’s exertions after his side’s disappointing 2-1 loss, citing it as the only real positive to be drawn from the fixture.
“It is a good thing now to have a young player like Choudhury coming in though. I think he is perhaps the only satisfaction from the game today because he came into the game with good quality, aggressiveness and tempo,” Puel insisted.
“He worked very hard and cut out a lot of dangerous balls for us because we pushed a lot in the second half. It was a good performance from him.”
Showing immense maturity and tactical discipline, the Foxes’ U23 captain demonstrated his astute positional sense, knowing precisely when to drop back, move laterally or push up. This was especially well documented in situations when the midfielder would astutely drop back and cover one of his centre-backs, usually Harry Maguire, whenever they embarked on a dribble upfield.
Moreover, his smarts also saw him shift across to cover in behind his full-backs or cover his teammates for any blown marking assignments. The way he constantly tried to ensure his team had structural security would’ve hugely impressed his manager.
When in possession, his neat and tidy distribution kept things ticking over nicely as he displayed a palpable sense of calmness in the offensive phase. His competent movement notably delivered his team numerical and positional superiorities in the middle, where he did a fine job of helping his team build out from the back and draw opposition markers to create space for his colleagues (like he did for Adrien Silva in the graphic below).
Following his accomplished outing against the Magpies, and taking into account Leicester’s personnel crisis in midfield, which sees Iborra, Daniel Amartey and Matty James injured, plus Wilfred Ndidi suspended, Choudhury should definitely be in line to enjoy his starting Premier League debut at Burnley this weekend.
Ben Chilwell, who came through the ranks with him at Leicester, was delighted with his teammate’s excellent body of work, saying: “He’s a great player. He does a good role when Wilf (Wilfred Ndidi) is out of the team in terms of tackling and breaking up the play, it’s what he’s good at.
“I’ve played with him a lot of years now and he’s always been good at that. It’s nice for him to come on and do well personally, so yeah, I think for him personally I’m sure he’ll be happy with how he did.”
Watching how the Englishman with Bangladeshi roots fares over the closing stages of the season will certainly be interesting, as he’ll be desperately hoping to impress his manager by replicating his quality display so he can continue to be granted vital first-team opportunities.
As is so often the case in football, if he can make the most of his chances, who knows, he might just be able to nail down a starting spot before too long and become Leicester’s next big star in the making.
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