Antonio Conte is happy to see two of his players nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, but he thinks that David Luiz, as well as the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta could have equally been on the shortlist.
Chelsea's three man defence has been integral to their success this season but the last defender to win the annual award was John Terry back in the 2004-05 season as he led Chelsea to their first title in exactly 50 years.
Luiz has surprised many with his improved consistency since re-signing for Chelsea from Paris Saint-Germain for £32 million on transfer deadline day. Conte thinks that his side have been vindicated for buying back a player that many didn't think was good enough.
"David arrived in England and I heard a lot of bad things about him when he arrived, and why was he coming back in Chelsea because, in the past, he had performed bad and he was 'not a defender'. This was a great challenge for him, but also for me.
"For me. Because I think when you have great ability for your players, and you can work to try and improve some situations, it's great. You can see that David, for sure, is a really strong defender.
"I like, always, to repeat to him that it's very important to have the right concentration. His role is a crucial role for us, and I think he has performed very well. But I want him to perform very well for the rest of the season.”
“I read in the newspapers, a lot of bad considerations, saying we had spent a lot of money on him and, in the past, he hadn't been very good as a defender. For this reason, he had played as a midfielder.
"I heard a lot of these things. But when we decided to buy him, to take him back, we were sure. We were sure we were taking a really good player and put him again as one of the best defenders in Europe and, I hope, in the world.”
“I think this position is perfect for David to play as a central player in three defenders. This is the best position for him because he has good technique, he's strong, he can start our possession and the personality to do this.
"He also has two really good defenders at his side, in Gary and Azpi or [Kurt] Zouma or [Nathan] Ake or John [Terry]. This position is fantastic for him. He's performing very well. But I repeat: I like always to push him because the season hasn't finished yet. For us, it's very important for us to keep the right concentration until the end.”
Kante is the most defensive player to make the PFA Player of the Year to be nominated this season with Eden Hazard nominated, alongside Romelu Lukaku, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexis Sanchez and Harry Kane.
Conte went onto say that he thought AC Milan's legendary defender Paolo Maldini should have probably won the Ballon d'Or during his career, as he spoke about the merits of Kante and Hazard with awards season approaching in the English game.
“It's more difficult for the defenders, no? For this reason, Paolo Maldini never won the player of the year award, the best player in the world award. For this reason. The defenders are a bit penalised," he pointed out.
"You are seeing N'Golo performing, Hazard performing... I'm very pleased for this because my task, and also the task of my staff, is to put every single player in the best situation: physical, tactical, technical, so they can give the best of himself.
"We are doing a great job with the players. During the game you can see their commitment, and I think that's great. With or without the ball. Eden is working very well for the team. When we are in ball possession or not.
"Eden is becoming a complete player, which is great for him. N'Golo is improving a lot, not only to win and recover the ball, but also we are working to improve the last pass. I repeat: I'm pleased for them, for these nominations. But I'm pleased for all my players because they are doing a great job.”