The hounds are circling Leicester City at the moment, with teams growing stronger and trying to take a bite out of them by plucking their best talent away. It’s important to hold on to what they can, with Jamie Vardy’s commitment to stay a good start but they have made another foray into the market to improve their midfield options next season.
After the success stories of Riyad Mahrez and N'Kolo Kante, Claudio Ranieri has returned to France to sign OGC Nice midfielder Nampalys Mendy, for a reported £13 million and will certainly strengthen their core next season.
A defensive midfielder by trade, Mendy was a key part of Nice’s rise to fourth in Ligue 1 last season. Under new Southampton boss Claude Puel, he was the anchor to which allowed the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Vincent Koziello and Alassane Plea to express themselves in the final third.
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Acting as both a shield in front of the defence and a starter of attacking movements, the Frenchman is an expert in turning attack into defence. His 92.1% pass success with an average of 77.6 passes per game is a testament to that, Mendy can pick up the ball in any area of the pitch and comfortably recycle it either to retain possession or begin counter-attacks.
He complimented those around him so well, sacrificing his own worth to get the best out of his more illustrious teammates. While not as much of a destroyer as his new midfield partner Kante, Mendy is adept at getting stuck in and in a similar style to the former Caen man, positions himself well to disrupt the opponent’s flow by making interceptions.
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While many might suggest Leicester’s midfield may not have needed Mendy, this move adds both depth and tactical switches that were unavailable to them last season. If either of Kante or Danny Drinkwater miss a game through suspension, they have the 24-year-old to lean on as well as giving Ranieri the option to employ a three-man midfield if the situation arises.
It also adds some insurance should a suitor lure Kante away this summer. It’s exactly the kind of move Ranieri needed to push Leicester forward in a season where everyone will step up their game against last season's Premier League champions.