N’Golo Kanté rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as Kevin De Bruyne and Kylian Mbappé. As is the case with most defensive midfielders, Kanté often goes unnoticed, but he is arguably one of the complete players of the last decade. The Frenchman can match the positioning skills of Rakitić, the box-to-box coverage of Busquets, and the precision-passing of Xabi Alonso. Moreover, he does it all consistently.
N’Golo Kanté started his career in the French second division with Boulougne, but after two seasons without playing first-team football, Caen took a chance on him—and it paid off. The hard-working midfielder instantly came into the side and helped Caen achieve promotion to Ligue 1.
In 2014-15, his first season in top-flight football, he helped them to a solid mid-table finish and started attracting attention from bigger clubs. Then, after just two exceptional campaigns in the north of France, N’Golo Kanté was snapped up by Leicester City.
The Midas Touch
At Leicester, which avoided relegation the season before, N’Golo Kanté picked up where he left off. He slotted straight into a side that would go on to shock the world (per the bookies, Leicester City had 5,000-to-1 odds to win the English championship at the beginning of the season). With Claudio Ranieri at the helm, Jamie Vardy in the form of his life, and Riyad Mahrez pulling strings, Leicester won the Premier League.
N’Golo Kanté was absurdly good that season. The reserved, slight midfielder covered every blade of grass, breaking up attacks and bringing balance to a squad with immense attacking firepower.
His importance was quickly recognized, and after just one season with Leicester, N’Golo Kanté joined Chelsea, where he also had an immediate impact. The Blues won the premier league under Antonio Conte in the 2016-17 season.
A year later, at the 2018 World Cup, Kanté was a vital part of a France team that won it all. Everything he touched between 2015 and 2018 turned to gold.
Is N’Golo Kanté Moving On?
Chelsea has had a tumultuous couple of seasons since winning the league in 2017. Since Frank Lampard took charge, N’Golo Kanté’s role has evolved. He isn’t just breaking up plays. He is scoring goals and participating more offensively.
Reports linked the Frenchman to a move away from Stamford Bridge at the start of the 2020/21 season. Thankfully for Chelsea supporters, these reports were false as he led the team to win the Champions League. No doubt, N’Golo Kanté is the best defensive midfielder the English Premiership has seen.
Main Image: Eurosport