Ranieri throws down Toffees gauntlet for Ndidi

New Leicester signing Wilfried Ndidi is poised to make his debut against Everton in the FA Cup. His manager Claudio Ranieri has challenged the £15 million midfielder to make an instant impact.
New Leicester signing Wilfried Ndidi is poised to make his debut against Everton in the FA Cup. His manager Claudio Ranieri has challenged the £15 million midfielder to make an instant impact.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • New signing Wilfred Ndidi could make his Leicester debut against Everton in the FA Cup third round today.

The midfielder completed a £15 million (S$26.65 million) move from Belgian club Genk on Wednesday and inked a five-and-a-half-year deal with the Premier League champions.

And Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri challenged the 20-year-old defensive midfielder to make an immediate impression.

"He is available for Saturday and all is fine," the Italian said at a press conference, before stressing that the Nigerian international was not a replacement for N'Golo Kante, who left the Foxes in the summer to join Chelsea.

"He is a very impressive player with a great future. He is tall and jumps very well for the headers, moves the ball quickly and recovers the ball very well.

"We have followed him a lot and we hope he will very quickly impress the fans. He's another kind of player (to Kante) - totally different."

Ndidi, who has six caps for his country, is a powerful, combative player. He has already told Leicester supporters what they can expect.

"I am the kind of player that plays for the team," he told LCFC TV. "I try to win the balls for the team - that is one of my main attributes. I hope to achieve a lot here."

Everton have also made their first signing of the winter window.

Ademola Lookman, 19, arrived from Charlton Athletic on Thursday for an initial £7.5 million fee, potentially rising to £11 million.

But the England Under-20 forward is Cup-tied and will not feature at Goodison Park today.

While the teenager has been signed for his potential, Everton boss Ronald Koeman has clear targets in mind to strengthen the first team, with Morgan Schneiderlin identified as a priority for central midfield. There also remains interest in the midfielder's Manchester United club-mate Memphis Depay.

United rejected Everton's opening offer of £19 million for Schneiderlin but negotiations will continue, with Koeman insisting he is not interested in backup options.

"We know what we want," he said. "We know the players we want and it is up to the board to make the deal and then, OK, if we don't get that positive call from the board then I am focused on my job, which is to prepare the team for the next game."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2017, with the headline 'Ranieri throws down Toffees gauntlet for Ndidi'. Print Edition | Subscribe