Seeing quotes from certain players slating the midfield general for Chelsea, N’Golo Kante, struck a nerve with me and it should be noted that the Frenchman is the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League, and by as great a distance as he covers in a single half of a game.
To be an effective defensive midfielder a player has to have stamina, bravery, foresight, and height – Kante fills all those duties except for height, which he relies on Nemanja Matic for. Kante’s greatest asset is his timing, however. His tiny flicks with the outside of his boot when it looks like possession is just about to be lost are so enjoyable to watch, and truly awe-inspiring.
I said at the start of the season that Kante was probably going to be Chelsea’s player of the year as he was going to bring steel to a fallen Chelsea team – the same steel that led Leicester City to the title. Without Kante, the Foxes have found themselves in a role reversal with Chelsea, struggling to match their performance of last season. It’s almost universally agreed that the biggest reason for Leicester’s downfall was the sale of the diminutive Frenchman.
Coupled with his deft touches and ballsy interceptions is a growing aptitude for attacking play. His long-range stunner that put Manchester United away 1-0 was as surprising as it was impressive, having beaten one of the best goalkeepers in the world, David de Gea. His first goal for Chelsea, also against United, was hilarious and impressive, but seeing as it was the fourth unanswered goal on the day, it sadly was overshadowed by a simply horrific performance from Jose Mourinho’s men.
The price Chelsea paid for him is looking to be a bargain as well, as he plays like two players sometimes, covering great distances in no time at all, and knowing when and where to be patient and controlled. His young age is yet another plus on the resume of the elegant midfielder who looks like he has played at Chelsea for years, and probably will for a while yet.
N’Golo Kante is the player all teams would have no bones about admitting they would want on their team. And it’s more easily admitted to than the admission that teams would love to have Diego Costa on their team too. (He’s a b******, but he’s our b******.)
Chelsea without Kante are noticeably different, despite Conte’s tactics being ingrained into the squad, it’s just so much more effective to have him on the pitch. Also he is rarely booked, never plays up the histrionics certain footballers are prone to, and he gives 110% every game.
A true gem, there is not enough praise for the Frenchman and even one criticism of Kante is one too many.